Jaitapur: Coinciding with the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to India, thousands of villagers and farmers on Saturday staged a protest against the Jaitapur nuclear power plant.
The villagers defied the draconian law of section 144 imposed in Jaitapur today to form a human chain at the proposed nuclear plant site. Demanding that there should not be any nuclear plant in that region, the protestors carried banners stating “No nuclear in Jaitapur” in English, French, Marathi and Hindi.
According to Pradeep Indulkar around 2,000 fishermen gathered in Nate early noon, a village located just 2km away from the proposed nuclear plant site. In Madban, the village closest to the proposed site, around 3,000 people were seen protesting.
Highlighting the major omissions of negative impacts in the Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA), farmers and fisher folks had on Tuesday warned of a mass protest if the environmental clearance was not reconsidered.
The villagers demand a reassessment of the EIA report and that the threat of building a nuclear plant on an earthquake prone zone is addressed.
Parvin Gavankar of Janahit Seva Samiti said, “Politicians are trying to make it look like we are opposing the plant because we want more money. This is not the case. How can we allow the destruction of our mother land? There is no clarity on how the authorities plan to dispose the radioactive waste that the plant would produce. The cooling water discharge from the plant alone will upset the coastal marine life moreover there is a high earthquake risk.”
According to the seismic survey of India, Jaitapur region has a high risk of earthquake damage, ranked as Zone IV on a five-grade scale.
“There was an earthquake last year in Jaitapur which caused the bridge to the village to collapse. In 1993 there was an earthquake in Latur (6.3 on the Richter scale), 400km from Jaitapur, which left thousands dead. The earthquake of 1967 (6.5 on the Richter scale) was even stronger and occurred 100km away from Jaitapur” Gavankar stated.
There are fears that the proposed nuclear plant in Jaitapur will destroy the livelihoods of a fishing community of more than 5000 people. Amjad Borkar, the head of the fishing community, is worried about the lack of clarity on the future of fishing industry of that region. “The threat to the local fishing community is grave and direct. We are afraid that the fishermen would not be allowed to carry out their activity for security reasons.” said Borkar.