Shashikant Trivedi / New Delhi/ Bhopal Aug 17, 2012,
The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to buy 700 Mw power annually from the proposed Chutka nuclear power project.

The progress of the project took a hit when people from nearby villages refused to accept the land acquisition notices sent to them by the government. The protesters are likely to assemble on August 19 to register their strong objection over the project, which, they say, would adversely affect every village that falls under the scheduled area. The project site, according to reports, falls under an earthquake-prone zone, a condition many say could result in a disaster similar to the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident.

 Though the project is yet to come out of the drawing board, the district administration has issued notices under the 1994 land acquisition Act. “We will buy power at prescribed tariff from the project which will be established by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). The state government has issued notifications for the land acquisition process,” said a government official.

 Members of Chutka Parmanu Sangharsh Samiti allege that the NPCIL and state government officials are going ahead with their plans without taking them into confidence and had furtively conducted surveys more than five times and even ignored decisions and resolutions taken by gram sabhas. Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, has vested all rights on deciding developmental activities to the gram sabhas.

According to office-bearers of the Chutka Parmanu Sangharsh Samiti, constituted soon after proposal of the project in 2009 was officialy propoed, after the sanction of this project in October 2009, the NPCIL officials approached three villages in the area but were chased away by the villagers in December 2009. Later, villagers from Chutka, Tatighat, Kunda and Patha approached the then district collector to stop survey activities of the project.

Navratan Dubey, a senior activist of the Samiti told Business Standard, “We have been told that as many as 38 tribal villages will be displaced if the project takes shape. We all are already displaced when the Bargi dam on Narmada river was conceived. We are strictly against the project as we do not want to move for another project. Moreover, as Chutka and nearby areas fall under the scheduled area, how come they ignore our gram sabha resolutions.”

We will assembe on the 19th of this month and lay our lives in protest if need arises. We will also meet the governor of the state to withdraw his order for land acquisition.”

Chutka, Tatighat, Kunda, Bhaliwara and Patha villages are in the core areas of the project. Villagers are more enraged as district collectors since 2009 and local politicians are allegedly making false promises.

“We are being fed with one lie after another. The local politicians and officials furtively allowed survey in other areas. We have not been contacted since then, but the government cannot force a nuclear power project on an ignorant tribal people. We have slapped the notification to acquire our land back to the tehsil office,” Dubey added.

Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh, another organisation working in the interests of the Bargi dam oustees too have supported the villagers. “The Chutka project will pose a question on the livelihood of various tribals, particularly the fishing community. The project also poses radiation risk and threat to the rich bio-diversity. Mandla is known for its evidences of primitive era when human civilisation began on earth. Mandla district has a history of earthquake with a massive one in 1997 which was measured 8 severity on Richter. Narmada valley in this area has records of earthquake how NPCL and state government can be so ignorant,” Rajkumar Sinha, an activist of Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh said. The proposed project is also in the vicinity of Kanha National Park.

The NPCIL officials and district collector were not available for comment but according to government sources, a land area of 288 hectares will be acquired in core tribal villages and 400 families will be displaced.