The French President will be the Chief Guest at this Republic Day parade; but 1800kms from New Delhi, farmers and fisherfolk in Jaitapur will be protesting this week against Mr. Hollande’s visit as the nuclear reactors that India is importing from France threaten their lives, livelihoods and the local ecology.
The Jaitapur project has serious and insurmountable problems – large-scale devastation of pristine and fragile ecosystem of Konkan, destruction of livelihoods for thousands of local farmers, fisherflk, alfonso cultivators and traders engaged in agro-business. Independent experts have underscored some crucial risks like the active seismic faultlines beneath the proposed site, the vulnerabilities of Areva's reactor design exposed by the French nuclear regulator itself, the lack of independent regulator and safety culture in India and the larger democratic deficit in consulting people about their destinies.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Jaitapur was conducted in a farcical and hurried manner by the previous govt, without even looking into look into the crucial aspects radiological releases, decommissioning and nuclear waste, besides summarily neglecting the vital issues of ecosystems and livelihoods, terrestrial ecosystems and farming, mangrove forests and the fragile marine ecology and fisheries in the region. The BJP had then demanded a fresh EIA for the project.
Similarly, the Modi govt has taken a u-turn on nuclear liability and has gone further than the previous regime in placating the nuclear vendors. In case of any nuclear accident, the Modi govt has provided a insurance pool to the supplier companies from the public money, essentially channeling back the liability to the common people.
Although the former chief of India’s Atomic Energy Commission promised a tariff of maximum Rs. 6.50 per unit for the electricity produced in Jaitapur, independent experts have claimed it will be much higher - between 15 to 20 rupees a unit, far expensive than even domestic nuclear power plants. If we go by costs of EPRS in Britain, each EPR in India would cost Rs. 60,000 crore, meaning the 2 reactors in Jaitapur's first phase would cost equal to the total expenditure on science and technology.
In the interest of common people of India, we oppose this unsafe, expensive, eco-destructive and anti-people project. The govt must initiate a democratic dialogue for a sustainable future for India.
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP), India