Skip to main content

While Modi is in US, back home in Gujarat villagers plan anti-nuclear protest at proposed Mithi Virdi site

Villagers' protest public hearing on N-plant in March 2013
By Our Representative
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the US and his supporting NRIs are chanting “Modi, Modi”, back home in Gujarat, tens of villages surrounding the proposed site for the 6,000 MW nuclear power plant are set to stage a major protest rally. To be held in the Mithi-Virdi-Jaspara region of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat on April 28, during the protest, when Modi will have intense discussions in the White House, the anti-nuclear campaigners are likely to insist that the Early Works Agreement signed in 2012 between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NCPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Corporation for the project be scrapped.
Available details say, the issue of solidifying the agreement, which was reached under the previous UPA government, is on agenda during Modi’s talks in the White House, and Modi’s team frantically wants to tackle certain ticklish “administrative issues” for implementing the Early Works Agreement with the US company, which had agreed to supply six 1000 MW (AP 1000) nuclear reactors for the Gujarat plant.
The protest will take place at a time when government authorities have cracked down on anti-nuclear protesters of Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam, imposing sedition charges against them. One of the leading protesters, SP Udayakumar, convener of the People's Movement against Nuclear Energy, was recently refused permission to embark plane for Kathmandu to attend a UN-sponsored human rights conference on the ground that criminal sedition charges have been leveled against him. So far, however, there has not been any such extreme step in Gujarat.
This will be the second major protest this year against the proposed nuclear plant. Top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, in the forefront of the anti-nuclear campaign in Gujarat, believes that in all 152 villages with a population of more than 200,000 in 30 km radius of the proposed nuclear power plant will be “adversely affected” because of the project. “The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. The rich alluvial soil here supports crops like groundnut, wheat, bajra, and cotton, and fruits like mango, chikoos and coconut”, Prajapati said in a statement.
Quoting sources in the agriculture department, Prajapati says, the area also “grows and supplies” vegetables like onion, brinjal, gourd, tomatoes, and drumsticks on a regular basis to other parts of the state, and the climate and the soil are suitable for cashew nuts. “Following the footsteps of the previous UPA Government, Modi’s US visit is all set to mortgage the environment and dilute the Nuclear Liability Act, so that private profits are safeguarded even as Fukushima exemplified all over again how risky nuclear power plants are”, Prajapati insisted.
The earlier protest was on March 9, 2014, when the gram panchayats of five most-affected villages passed a resolution declaring the entire Mithi Virdi-Jaspara region as nuclear free zone, sending its copy to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, chief minister Modi, and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. The resolution declared, “At a time when Special Investment Region has become the most lobbied term in the state of Gujarat, this region too should be announced as SAR (special agricultural region) for agricultural purpose.”
In all 777 hectares (ha) of land in Jaspara, Mithivirdi, Khadarpa, and Mandva villages will be affected for the proposed nuclear power plant, and the state government has declared its intention to invoke the “public purpose” clause of the new land acquisition Act -- Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 -- for acquiring land. The application of the public purpose clause would mean that the state government would not need to seek the consent of 70 per cent of the affected villagers for acquiring land.
The reason being forwarded for the people of so several villages feeling uncomfortable is not far to seek: While the terms of Reference for the Ministry of Environment and Forests claimed an area of 10 km radius was under the direct influence of the proposed nuclear power plant, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study of the N-plant said 30 km of radius would need to be studied on possible impact of radioactivity. The word has spread about this, and the villagers are angry. There is also another fear: the site of the project is just about five km from a top lignite mining site, while Asia’s biggest ship-braking yard Alang is only 20 km away.
Environmentalists have already taken strong exception to the EIA report, which was put up for public hearing in March 2013, saying the consultants, Engineers India Ltd (EIL), are not accredited for preparing a report on the proposed N-plant. In fact, NPCIL sources say, no agency in India is accredited to assess nuclear power projects by National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET). EIL had applied (to NABET) for accreditation in 2010. “NABET gave permission to EIL to carry out EIA. Besides, all NPCIL’s projects are assessed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) as far as radioactive emissions is concerned,” an NCPIL executive has been quoted as saying.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).