Anti-nuclear protests against the proposed Kovvada nuclear plant in Andhra Pradesh are all set to acquire a new momentum in South India following the decision of the local people to join hand with national-level activists of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movement (NAAM), Human Rights Forum and Sanjeevini Paryavarana Seva Sangham.
Indications emerged following a meeting with local people that agitations would engulf Srikakulam district, where the project is proposed, on the lines of the one organized against the the Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu. The word has gone around that in case of an accident it is not just the Kovvada village would be affected, but also other neighbouring areas.
An action plan, in coordination with civil society organizations and trade unions, was worked out, with plans for a series of protests in February and March. Kumar Sundaram of NMANE said following the civil society meeting that the “unsafe, uneconomic, eco-destructive” project was being set up set in “brazen contempt for the democratic rights and livelihoods of the local communities.”
The Andhra Pradesh government wants to turn Nellore and Srikakulam districts in the state into a nuclear hub as part of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) plan to generate over 60,000 MW of nuclear power across the country.
In Kovvada alone, around 2,400 acres of land is slated to be acquired for the proposed 6000 MW nuclear power plant. Tipped to be India’s biggest, the atomic power plant will have six reactors each with a capacity of 1000 MW each. The construction work for the project would start in 2018 and production would begin by 2024.
As of today, the total installed capacity of atomic power in India has not crossed 5,000 MW in the last 50 years.
Sundaram said, “The US and other western countries are waiting to dump their technology in the country. People should fight against tapping atomic power as many countries, including Sweden and Vietnam, have decided not to depend on atomic power.”
He added, “Shockingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with US president Barrack Obama in January 2015, effectively gave away Indian people’s right to sue the nuclear suppliers in case of accident, which will be much more devastating than Fukushima. And still the BJP and its government talks of being nationalists, brandinganti-nuclear and environmental activists anti-national.”
He was referring to as many as 2,500 fisherfolk of Idinthakarai village, including women, elderly and adolescent, facing sedition charges since 2012 for peacefully opposing the Koodankulam nuclear plant in their vicinity.
Centre for Indian Trade Unions' Andhra Pradesh president Ch Narasinga Rao said, NPCIL is yet to obtain site clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for the Kovvada project, while senior CPM leader B Krishna Murthy added, the nuclear power plant poses a threat to the entire North Andhra region, as it will be established in an earthquake-prone zone.
Sanjeevini Paryavarana Seva Sangham convener K Ramam said that the project would lead to heavy financial burden as the State government would be forced to buy atomic power at Rs 10 per unit when solar power was available at Rs 3 per unit in the country.
With plans to acquire around 2,400 acres of land for the construction of the project, about 1,500 families of various villages such as China Kovvada, Peda Kovvada, Tekkali and Ramachandrapuram face displacement.