In Jaitapur, 6 EPR-design nuclear reactors imported from France, are being set up in brazen violation of safety, environmental and seismic regulatory norms besides being undemocratically imposed on the local communities whose lives and livelihoods depend on the fragile ecology that is threatened to be destroyed. The local communities, including farmers, fisherfolk, agro-traders, women and children have been opposing what would be world’s biggest nuclear power park – with a total capacity of 9,900MWs – if it comes through. Apart from grassroots opposition, negotiations on the cost of the reactors, liability in case of potential accidents and terminal crisis of French nuclear industry itself has slowed down the project which has been in offing since 2008.
This Sunday, people in the area are going to stage massive ‘jail bharo’ protest against the nuclear project in their area. Speaking to DiaNuke.org, local activist Fakir Mohammad Solkar said that between 1500 to 2000 people are expected to participate in the protest and their primary demand is that the nuclear project must be entirely scrapped. Sachin Chavan, another key activist, added that this project threatens the entire Konkan region which is demarcated as ecologically fragile and a biodiversity hotspot. While France itself is scaling back its nuclear production and its nuclear industry is facing bankruptcy, the lives of common Indian people are put at stake for this dangerous reactor as if they are guinea pigs.
Answering to why did the farmers gave away their land for the project, Sachin Chavan quipped – “see, the land was forcibly acquired from the farmers they did not give it willingly. They put up a strong fight for years but eventually the govt’s stick and carrot policy worked. One young person from Sakhri Nate was even killed during protests in 2011 by indiscriminate police firing. The farmers continue to protest and last year 13 village panchayats – elected local governance bodies – passed unanimous statements against the project.” The reports of National Oceanography of India says that the project would irreversibly harm the entire coast from Maharashtra until Goa, he added.
Satyajit Chavan, leader of the Janhit Seva Samiti which is the key local organisation, asserts – “Modi govt has canceled Westinghouse project in Gujarat and recognised the environmental and safety risks it posed. Now our demand is that it must cancel the Jaitapur project as well, at the earliest. Until that happens, we will keep protesting and our agitation will only grow stronger. This week, the French regulator ASN made fresh revelations about the vulnerabilities of components used in EDF. A detailed report on the unacceptable risks of this project can be read here.
Here are some pictures from a similar Jail Bharo(court voluntary arrest) movement in Jaitapur in 2015.