Lok Raj Sangathan has been consistently opposing the anti-people development policy of the government, insisting that the people should have the decisive say in deciding the course of development. An activist of the Lok Raj Sangathan attended this important conference and presented the views of our organisation (Please refer to articles and statements on the issue of Jaitapur and Tarapur on the website).
The day long conference was organised at Gujarat Vidyapeeth, on 27th August. The organisers were Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal, Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya (Vetch), Janpath, Gujarat Lok Samiti, Paryavaran Mitra, PUCL( Gujarat), AWAG, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Paryavaran Santri, Lok Andolan (Gujarat), Manviya Technology Forum, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
On behalf of the organisers Krishnakant said that they were not against development, but they were asking that people should be given the choice to opt for the development they want. Just because it benefits some corporates, development should not be forced on people.
Mr. Ashis Birulee, activist from Jaduguda, said that there was constant radiation threat to the people in Jaduguda, because of open mining of Uranium. The people are poor there and they are using even the stones from the Uranium quarries. He said that their organisation, JOAR, was trying to make the people aware, and force the Government to provide safety to the people. For this UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Ltd), who are the owners of the mines, are branding their organisation as anti – national. Since UCIL is the only employer they are able to put pressure on people there. There are many places where radiation is very strong. The tail ponds are places where there is very strong radiation. The people are suffering from skin diseases and other radiation related diseases.
The activist from Tarapur, Maharashtra, where the first nuclear power plant was constructed, Mr. Jitendra Raut, said that in 1967 when the second reactor was made there they gave their land happily thinking it would come to use for the nation. But they were given so many false promises. They were told that electricity will be free, but later were given a big bill of electricity. There is no safety. His own brother and brother’s wife who worked there had a blind child who died within a few months of being born.
Mr. Arya Yeshveer, activist from Fatehabad, Haryana said that because of their work, Government has not yet been able to take the land. The requirement of land is 1550 acres; they have used the cassettes of Dr. Gadekar on the ill effects of radiation, and the cassette on Bhopal gas tragedy. The people now are able to withstand the NPCL propaganda that nuclear energy is safe.
The activist from Koodankoolam, Tamil Nadu, could not come, to the Conference. They sent a message saying that the Government wants to put up more reactors there. People are opposing that this will further cause radiation hazard. During the monsoon, water had entered the reactor premises, and the reactor had a narrow escape.
An activist of Green Peace from Japan was contacted on phone and SKYPE. She said that Government. is not telling the truth as regards radiation in Japan. People are buying radiation meters. Because of people’s pressure, the Japanese Government had to declare that radiation was high in and around Fukushima.
An activist of the Konkan Bachao Samiti from Mumbai pointed out that the NPCL (Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd) is saying that Jaitapur is barren land. He showed by photographs that Jaitapur in Konkan, adjacent to the sea, had a very verdant nature. It has rare species of birds like Devbhat, which is a white bellied sea eagle. He was angry that NEERI gave a thoroughly irresponsible assessment that nuclear power project would not endanger any biological species and that there were not many biological species to be found there. He ridiculed the authorities for arguing that nuclear energy is clean and green.
Vaishali Patil asked why they are forcing the Jaitapur project. She said that she is a resident of an area nearby, but still she was not allowed to visit Jaitapur. They have put a ban on many activists. When Justice Sawant, a Senior Justice, wanted to go for a public hearing he was stopped saying there was order from higher authorities. Already three people have died in the struggle. The Government is also trying to lure people with money, but 95 % of the people have not accepted compensation.
Arun Velaskar from Mumbai said that Jaitapur was more for the nuclear bomb project. They want Plutonium 239. There should be national opposition. He stated that they are working for a national front.
Dr. Mrs. Gadekar declared that there was no safe dose of nuclear radiation. The Government should have warned people of Fukushima that the radiation was high; then people would have gone away to a safe distance.
Dr. Surendra Gadekar said that India had a bad record in safety. In India, mistakes are done even when that has been demonstrated at other places. He gave example of Narora power plant where all the cables were put together, whereas after Browns Ferns fire it was made a norm that cables should not be kept together. He also said spent fuel is dangerous and in Tarapur, 2200 tons of spent fuel is there.
A Greenpeace activist, Ms. Karuna Riana, said that the Indian Government is callous about safety. She recounted how Dr. Banerjee, the Chairman of the Departmetn of Atomic Eneergy,, said that our reactors are safe immediately after the Fukushima incident. After many days it was declared that Fukushima was a level 7 accident. Still, she said, the Indian Government is saying that nothing can happen to their reactors. She said that after lot of pressure, the AERB (the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) has accepted that we have a bad safety culture. Europe, Germany, Italy and Switzerland have decided to phase out nuclear reactors, but India is bent on going ahead. She declared that it was essential to hold seminars in places like Mumbai and Delhi to make people aware.
The meeting ended with a Resolution to take this issue to more places.