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Jaitapur plant will block Yashwantgad, Vijaydurg

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Pune Mirror
January 30, 2011

Locals say that once the nuclear plant comes up, the two Shivaji-era forts will be out of bounds for tourists and researchers, plant will also affect the Western Ghat ecology

Even as the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri is being opposed by villagers and fishermen for its negative impact on the social and environmental development of the area, there are other apprehensions among nature-lovers. Yashwantgad and Vijaydurg, the two forts from the Chhatrapati Shivaji era, will go out of reach of tourists and researchers once the plant starts functioning.

Sachin Joshi, professor of archaeology, Deccan College, said, “The Impact Assessment Report of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board did not take into account objections of archaeologists. The plant will put the two forts out of bounds for tourists and researchers.”

The restrictions

After the plant starts functioning, at least two km area from Jaitapur will be declared a restricted zone. Yashwantgad stands on the opposite side of the creek, while the aerial distance between Vijaydurg and Jaitapur is about 2.5 km. Thus, both the forts will fall under the restricted zone.

Joshi suggested mapping and documentation of the forts can help the future generation in their research work. He cited an example of the mapping of forts at Latur and Ausa, which were destroyed in the massive earthquake on September 30, 1993.

Yashwantgad, the last fort on the 720-km-long coastal belt in Maharashtra, is at Redi village, 20 km from Vengurle town. Originally belonging to Adilshah of Bijapur, the fort was won by Shivaji during his military campaigns and later by the British in 1818. It stands in good condition and many historical relics are preserved there. Interestingly, it neither falls under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India nor the state archaeological department.

Local opposition

Local villagers and activists have opposed the nuclear plant saying it will destroy the flora and fauna as well as create large scale pollution in the Arabian Sea. The plant falls in the Konkan region, which is adjacent to the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats and close to Mumbai.

Pradeep Indulkar of Konkan Anti-Nuclear Project Committee (KANPC) said, “The opposition is so widespread that not a single villager has taken monetary compensation for the land to be acquired for the plant.”

The KANPC and Konkan Bachav Samiti (KBS) are spearheading the movement for scrapping of the nuclear plant.

Alka Joshi of Lokayat, which is part of KBS, said, “The chief minister is under the impression that increased compensation will ease the land acquisition problem. But we are not for more compensation. We want the plant to be scrapped.”

Joshi said that before the nuclear power plant came up at Tarapur, over 500 boats used to catch fish in the area. Now the number has dwindled to five or six. She said this time the locals vented their anger against the government by skipping the flag hoisting ceremony on Republic Day. “Even the schools remained closed,” she claimed.

The project

The 9,360-MW nuclear project will be run by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in association with Areva, France.

It is the first major international power project in India after the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement took place in October 2008. Despite stiff opposition, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had publicly announced last week in Sangli that the plant will come up at any cost.

Villagers up the ante against Jaitapur N-plant

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Nikhil M Ghanekar in Tehelka

January 18, 2011

Panchayat heads resign, activists and villagers boycott meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan

In an effort to awaken the Maharashtra government to take notice of the growing opposition to the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Park, panchayat heads of 10 villages, along with 80 other elected members, have decided to resign. The panchayat heads of Madban, Niveli, Karel, Mithgavane, Ansure, Padve, Nate, Sakhari Nate, Dale and Jaitapur issued a statement to Ratnagiri Chief Executive Officer Dinesh Doke stating their opposition to the nuclear plant.

Local residents and environmental activists have been opposing the plant on grounds of radiation, environment and bio-diversity concerns. The plant, which will be the biggest in the world, will produce 9,900 MW of energy.

“We want the government to understand the severity of our opposition,” says Dr Milind Desai of the Janhit Sewa Samiti, Madban. “The panchayat heads of the villages surrounding the plant are never taken into confidence about administrative processes, so why should they continue to be in that position? The government has never wanted to know our stand. Our resignation will lead to a stagnation of the Gram Sabha and eventually they will have to listen to us.”

Desai says 25 more panchayat heads will join the protest and residents of these villages will make a request for a joint Gram Sabha to hold a referendum on the project under Section 7 of the Bombay Village Panchayat Act, 1958.

“We have collected nearly 600 signatures from local residents and more will be taken in a door-to-door campaign to petition against the project,” says Nate sarpanch Sanjay Bandkar.

On 18 January, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan organised a meeting with the affected people, activists and officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Atomic Energy Commission to discuss the apprehensions about the plant. However, members of the Konkan Bachao Samiti, Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpa Virodhi Samiti, Janhit Sewa Samiti, Ratnagiri Jilha Jagruk Manch stayed away and sent a letter to Chavan explaining their reasons for the boycott.

“The locals are being treated as hardened criminals,” alleges Adwait Pednekar of the Konkan Bachao Samiti. “Externment orders and Section 37(3), (1), 144 (unlawful assembly) have been constantly promulgated in the area to prevent exercise of democratic rights. Why then are they asking them to come to Mumbai? All the locals, activists and protesters have consulted with independent bodies, nuclear scientists like Surendra Gadekar and Sanghamitra Gadekar, AEC, Ministry of Enviroment and Forests) and the AERB to arrive at the decision to oppose the plant. Our approach has always been scientific. Unlike what the state government thinks, we do not have any misconceptions and apprehensions about the project that we want to clear. Thus we abstained from attending this meeting.”

Pednekar added that if the government genuinely wants to discuss the issue, the police repression should be stopped, the land acquired forcibly should be returned, the reasons behind selecting Jaitapur as the site be explained and a suitable atmosphere should be created for dialogue.

The letter says there has not been any disclosure on crucial issues like the capital cost of the project, electricity tariff, design approval of the reactors, operational safety in the public domain.

Meanwhile, residents of Madban and neighbouring villages will once again gather in numbers for the annual Bhagwati Jatra this week and decide on their future course of action.

Why We Oppose the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

A Letter to the Chief Minister by social activists in Maharashtra
Copy from SACW website

Janahit Seva Samiti, Madban

Reg. No.: Maharashtra (3456) / Ratnagiri, Dt. 10.08.2007
Reg. No.: F 3444
At Post: Madban, Tal.: Rajapur, Dist.: Ratnagiri [India]

January 17, 2011

To,
Mr. Prithviraj Chavan
Hon’ble Chief Minister
State of Maharashtra
Mantralaya
Mumbai 400 032
Re: Decision to Abstain from Attending the Meeting Called by you on January 18, 2011 – Our Position

Dear Sir,

The newspapers have reported that you have called a meeting on 18th January 2011 to address the ‘misconceptions’ and ‘apprehensions’ in the minds of the local residents. We wish to clarify at the outset that ever since the land acquisition process commenced in 2006 we have deeply studied the issues relating to the nuclear power project and our opposition to the project is firmly anchored in these scientific studies.

In the past four years we have carefully read the writings of Dr. Kakodkar, S.K. Jain, Dr. Ravindra Kale and other proponents of the project. We have held discussions with NPCIL and AEC. We have discussed with nuclear scientists Dr. Surendra Gadekar and Dr. Sanghamitra Gadekar. We have studied the writings of nuclear experts Zia Mian, Elliot, Solomon, Flavin and Dr. Helen Caldicott, the discussions in ’Anuvivek’ by Dr. Dilip Kulkarni , and ’Anuurja: Bhram, Vastav aani Paryaya’, by Dr. Sulabha Brahme, and the writings of many other authors in the media before arriving at our conclusions. On the basis of all these materials we have arrived at the conclusion that Nuclear Energy is an unaffordable and unacceptable option whose costs far outweigh its benefits. Nuclear power has inherent safety, security and large scale environmental risks including extremely long term risks. It is extremely costly when all the costs are calculated. Due to the high cost and radioactive risk new nuclear plant construction has been halted in the US and most of Europe. Public opposition to nuclear power in Europe and the US has also been growing. This is why the western countries are trying to sell their reactors to India, China and S. Korea.

Despite years of research, there is no satisfactory technology even today for eliminating the high level radioactivity produced by nuclear reactors. There is no geological repository in existence anywhere in the world which can reliably and safely confine and contain these high level nuclear by-products for the enormous time period necessary to reduce the radioactivity to acceptable levels. Till today there is no scientific answer to the problem of disposal of nuclear waste and radioactive by-products of nuclear reactors.

Despite precautions numerous smaller scale accidents and incidents resulting in radioactive release have occurred in NPPs. The recent incident at Kaiga is just one example. Due to the possibility of accidents or incidents with extremely widespread damage the western power plant suppliers are demanding exemption from civil liability for the consequences of nuclear incidents.

Nuclear power is neither cheap, nor clean, nor safe. The irreversible long term damage from radioactivity will be a real risk for thousands of years. Therefore we have come to the firm conclusion that we cannot allow a nuclear power project at Madban/Jaitapur.

All four gram panchayats in the area have used their authority under the 73rd amendment to pass unanimous resolutions against the proposed JNPP. At the public hearing on May 16th 2010 objections were forcefully articulated by scientific experts. We along with the Konkan Bachao Samiti have had detailed discussions with the Minister of Environment and Forests, and technical experts of the NPCIL, NEERI and the AEC. These discussions have only confirmed and reinforced our conclusion that nuclear power is unaffordable, unacceptable, and fails a scientific cost-benefit analysis test.

Till today there has been no disclosure in the public domain about the capital costs of the project, nor the electricity tariff, which can be the basis of study and scrutiny. Most important till today there has been no consideration, leave alone approval of the design, operational safety, security and environmental risks of the project, its likely impact on the ecology and the livelihoods of the area by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, and other authorities. The project is not shown on any development plan for Ratnagiri. In these circumstances we have decided not to participate in the proposed meeting on the 18th January 2011.

In addition to our fundamental opposition to nuclear power on the above grounds we have specific objections to the site selection. The Madban plateau is continuously experiencing numerous seismic tremors. Cracks have developed in several places. Water availability is the only criterion which is satisfied according to the criteria of the Vengurlekar Committee. The project will be in substantial violation of the CRZ restrictions, though technically exempted. While selecting this sensitive plateau scientific realities appear to have been ignored. The environmental consequences on the Konkan region of the network of high tension transmission towers needed to evacuate 10,000 MW of power have also not been considered.

Most importantly, the Madban plateau is an unique biodiversity ecological hot-spot, which is has to be preserved as a global natural treasure. “To describe this ecological treasure as a barren plateau is unscientific and a blatant lie, which however is digested by muddleheaded experts from Mumbai- and Delhi”- in these terms Dr. Madhav Gadgil has expressed his criticisms in an article which has appeared in Sakal 12th Nov 2010. The BNHS has also in its report stated that the JNPP will have an adverse impact on the biodiversity and the marine life due to the hot water discharges. The adverse impact on the marine life has also been acknowledged by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Mr. Jairam Ramesh.

The construction of the jetty for building the JNPP will destroy the mangrove forests in and around the creeks. This will destroy the fish breeding grounds and reduce the fish populations. The passage of large sea vessels will destroy marine ecology. The daily intake of 5200 crore litres of water by the project will adversely impact on fish resources. The discharge of the same at a higher temperature will damage the prawn, mollusc and fish resources. There will be a 500 meter no fishing zone all around the project. Security requirements against possible terrorist attacks for the project will place further restrictions on the movement of boats and fishing vessels. All this will have severe adverse impact on the fishing communities in and around the project. There are nearly 7500 persons whose livelihood and survival directly depends on fishing will thus be immediately adversely affected even destroyed. To the south, the livelihood of around 5000 persons directly dependent on fishing for living in fishing villages of Katli, Ingalwadi, Jambhari will be adversely affected. The livelihoods of thousands more who work in the local fishing industry and trade will be devastated.

The current requirement of power of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts is a mere 180 MW, against which 4663 MW of power plant capacity is currently already being exported from these two districts with a further increase of 600 MW in one or two months.

Since shortage of power is cited as the justification for this project we are enclosing a booklet on the alternatives before the country for electricity generation for your perusal.

You are aware that Konkan is the Kashmir of Maharashtra. Substantial employment can be created in industries based on the rich natural resources which do not destroy but preserve and develop the natural wealth. If fish resources are protected, fishing and industries around fish reprocessing can flourish. The working people of Konkan can live with dignity. The farmers, workers and fishing community of Konkan desire a nature conserving, viable and people-oriented development in the Konkan. What kind of development is desirable and what is not is outlined in the booklet that we are enclosing with this letter.

If the government is serious about having a frank dialogue with the activists and the people, certain minimum requirements should be observed. The discussion should take place not in Mumbai but nearby the project site. The organizations opposing the project should have the prerogative to choose their spokesmen and representatives. There should be sufficient time for preparing the discussions on a mutually agreed agenda. The common people should be allowed to participate in the discussion. The issues involved require a discussion of a full day or two days- they cannot be dealt with in a short 2 hour meeting. Only if these minimum requirements are met will it be possible to have a serious and meaningful discussion which is open and unbiased.

If the only purpose of the meeting is to clear our doubts, there is no need for such a meeting. If the meeting is called for any other reason, it is still not possible for us to participate in the current environment of police and state repression. Since the commencement of land acquisition in 2006 ban orders under sections 37(3) (1), 144 have been continuously promulgated in the area, to prevent our exercise of democratic rights. False cases have been foisted on activists. The whole area has been converted into a permanent police camp. Our daily life and livelihood has been rendered difficult, in fact impossible. Mr. Praveen Gavankar, who is a leader of the agitation, has had false cases registered against him and his bail applications have been opposed by the government, to keep imminent arrest as a hanging sword over his head. Peaceful citizens of Maharashtra are being treated as criminals. It is not possible to have a dialogue in these circumstances. We cannot think of discussions if the ban orders and false cases are not withdrawn.

However, if the government is prepared to reconsider the project with an open mind and announces so publicly, we are prepared to meet you for discussions anywhere and at any time.

Your government is trying to impose the project on us. We are determined to oppose it by a mass movement peacefully and democratically. We request you to recognize this democratic opposition, stop attempts to crush it by force, declare that the JNPP project is cancelled and allow us and the people of Maharashtra to live in peace and security.

Our demands:

1. Cancel the Jaitapur Nuclear Project
2. Return the lands which have been forcibly acquired from us.
3. Withdraw all police cases filed against the movement activists and also the ban orders and create a suitable environment for dialogue.

Your truly,
For Janahit Seva Samiti, Madban

Sd/-

Praveen Gavankar, Shyamsundar Narvekar, Surfuddin Kazi, Amjad Borkar, Dr. Milind Desai, Rajan Wadekar, Ramesh Kajve, Shrikrishna Mayekar, Mangesh Kaskar, Bala Gavankar, Malik Gadkari, Sadat Habib, Ms. Manda Wadekar, Mrs.Ranjana Manjrekar

And

Konkan Bachao Samiti, Konkan Vinashakari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, Maharashtra Macchhimar Kruti Samit, Ratnagiri Jilha Jagruk Manch Ratanagiri Dist, Madban-Mithgavhane-Jaitapur Sangharsh Samiti

Jaitapur n-project: schools shut, villagers to boycott meet

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

From The Hindu

January 11, 2011

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s announcement of holding an open house to discuss issues pertaining t

o the 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Konkan, have met with resistance from the project-affected people who will boycott the meeting.

Schools in the project area in Ratnagiri district, around 370 km from here, remained shut on Monday and Tuesday as a mark of protest against the project, activist Praveen Gavankar said.

“Around 2,500 students from 70 schools in the area did not attend classes in protest,” he said, adding schools will not celebrate Republic Day as well to register their protest.

Nuclear scientists, political parties, leaders of protesting groups and social organisations are expected to attend the January 18 meeting convened by Chavan.

Gavankar said the open house date clashed with the local festival, Bhagwatichi yatra (religious congregation of Goddess Bhagwati) in Madban village.

“From kindergarten to high schools, around 70 schools with nearly 2,500 students remained shut in 22 villages, including Madhban, Mithgawane, Karel, Niweli and Ansure,” he said.

A team of Shiv Sena legislators last month visited the project site to express their solidarity with project-affected people and to oppose the Jaitapur plant.

Gavankar said radiation from the power plant may affect the ancient Vijaydurg Fort, five km from the project site.

2010: An action-packed year for Environment Ministry

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Hindu Businessline

New Delhi, Jan. 5

The Environment and Forests Ministry was in news throughout 2010 — be it for Vedanta Resources, Posco and Lavasa — or for the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Mr Jairam Ramesh’s aggressive green activism.

While the Ministry rejected the green signal to Vedanta for its $1.7 billion project to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa noting that the company violated the environment and forests rules, it put the $12 billion project by South Korean steelmaker Posco under scanner.

The Posco project seeks diversion of 1,253.225 hectares of forest land for the establishment of Integrated Steel Plant and Captive Port in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district.

The Ministry was also in news for holding up the Rs 3,000-crore Lavasa project in Maharashtra.

Lavasa has challenged the Ministry’s directive in the Bombay High Court.

Two mega projects which got conditional clearance last year are Navi Mumbai International Airport to handle 60 million passengers annually by 2030 and 10,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra.

The Ministry invited the wrath of some other ministries particularly coal for its objection to mining activities in forest areas.

Mr Ramesh was forced to agree to increase the “go zone” for coal mining in forest areas, following intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office after the Coal Minister, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal, expressed his unhappiness at the Environment Ministry’s decision to declare 40 coal blocks under nine collieries as “no go area” where no mining will be allowed.

“Go areas” are the designated zones in forest areas where coal mining is allowed in case they meet the environment clearance. Mr Jaiswal had complained to the PMO that dividing coal fields into “go” and “no go” areas would result in a massive 600 million tonne annual shortfall in production.