New Delhi: Kerala’s Left-dominated legislative assembly adopted a resolution on Friday urging the Union government to ditch the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement—on environmental grounds rather than purely ideological. One green activist said the move was unprecedented.
The resolution linked the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2006 with the nuclear deal, over which the Left parties have withdrawn support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.
The EIA notification mandates that companies wishing to set up nuclear power plants apply for environmental clearance to the Union government rather than the states.
Nuclear energy companies associated with the defence forces would be exempted from requiring environmental clearances.
“The EIA notification of 2006 is against the interest of Kerala state, nature and environment and people,” said the resolution.
“The Indo-American Nuclear Agreement is an attempt by American imperialism to transform India as a client state. Kerala State Assembly earnestly requests Central Government to withdraw from the Agreement,” the resolution said.
This resolution was proposed by Rajaji Thomas, a lawmaker from the Communist Party of India (CPI), and was passed with 76 votes in favour and none against in the 141-member assembly.
The resolution will now move to the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), which will have to take a call on it.
“The notification has diluted provisions for nuclear facilities, opening the gates for the nuclear agreement,” said a member of the assembly, who did not wish to be identified.
The resolution was passed as the UPA prepares for a showdown in Parliament over the nuclear deal after taking heavy flak over the agreement from both its erstwhile Left allies and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
“This is an unprecedented move by a state,” said Leo Saldanha, an activist of Bangalore-based Environment Support Group.
“The Kerala state assembly has set a landmark precedent in Parliamentary democracy history of India by asserting its power in the federal structure of governance of India,” he said.
He added that on rules related to other important issues, such as land and water, which are also state subjects, the MoEF should open them up for debate at the state level before letting them go to Parliament.
Another member of the assembly, who did not wish to be identified, said the nuclear deal was not the only reason behind the resolution.
“There have been many such environmental issues in the state. Some projects have been getting clearances without even a public hearing,” he said.
The 163MW Athirapally Hydro-Electric Project, on the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district, has been hanging fire since the early 1990s.
The project, to be executed by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), has been at the centre of protests by local villagers, tribals and farmers.
KSEB obtained a clearance from MoEF for the project without a public hearing under the 2006 EIA notification after holding one hearing under a predecessor.