Public hearing on MP’s Chukta nuclear power project cancelled


Shashikant Trivedi  |  Bhopal  May 24, 2013

Led by Ramon Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey and others prominent activists of the state, locals of as many as 38 villages restricted Mandla district administration to organise a public hearing on controversial Chutka nuclear power project.

According to activists, more than 4,000 villagers reached the hearing site at Chutka and stalled the process before it could take place. “The public hearing meeting has been cancelled today,” said a government spokesperson but refused to give details on next schedule.

According to the protesters, agitation against the 1,400 MW Chutka nuclear power project (450 km east from Bhopal) was boiling up. They are likely to intensify agitation against land acquisition process launched by state government.

“Locals now understand that this project poses several health risks and is not in their favour. As propagated by state authorities and champions, nuclear power is no more a cheaper option. If it is why United States has not come up with any new nuclear power project since 1979. After Fukushima disaster in 2011, most of the countries are now exploring possibilities in renewable energy sources. Why India is looking at nuclear option? Is it due to those private players of the US that have entered some suspicious deals with India? This project should not come up at any cost,” Pandey told Business Standard over telephone.

The NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited) plans to commission the Chutka project in Chutka which falls under highly seismic zone. Local administration launched a process to acquire land by issuance of land acquisition notices to local people. Reportedly, the administration has completed documentation formalities by ignoring the fact that the site and affected people are tribal and come under scheduled area, the protestors calimed.

Local people were protesting against the public hearing on Friday as they had been slapped a NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) report which is beyond their analyzing abilities. The hearing was called to invite claims, objections and suggestions on the project. “We will now intensify our protest under Chutka Parmanu Pradushan Sangharsh Samiti and would now stall land acquisition process. When they have not obtained environment clearances how can they acquire land?” said Sunil, another activist of Madhya Pradesh Jan Sangharsh Morcha.

 

Chutka Locals to disrupt public hearing for nuke project on the Narmada


Chutka ( M.P.), May 23, 2013

Pheroze L. Vincent. The Hindu 

Villagers staging indefinite dharna in Chutka village on Thursday to protest against the Public Hearing by District Administration for Nuclear Power Plant at Chutka village in Mandla disstrict of Madhya Pradesh on Friday. Photo: A.M.Faruqui
THE HINDU Villagers staging indefinite dharna in Chutka village on Thursday to protest against the Public Hearing by District Administration for Nuclear Power Plant at Chutka village in Mandla disstrict of Madhya Pradesh on Friday. Photo: A.M.Faruqui

Residents of four villages, which are supposed to give way for a nuclear project, are expected to picket a public hearing at Chutka on Friday. The 1400 MW power project by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is planned over 497.73 hectares in Narayanganj tehsil, roughly 400 km east of Bhopal.

Many of those participating in the agitation, have already lost their homes and pastures to the Bargi Dam on the river Narmada in 1984.

When The Hindu visited Chutka village, where a large tent is being set up for the hearing tomorrow, almost every hutment had “Cancel the public hearing, we don’t want nuclear power” painted in Hindi in front. Chutka is predominantly populated by the Gond tribe, who’s main occupation in growing lentils, corn, maize, mustard and staple Gond millets like Kodo (Palspalum scrolaiculatum) and Kutki (Panicum sumatrense).

The “parmanu” or nuclear plant was the main subject of discussion among guests leaving a wedding in Dhan Singh’s house. His wife Umedhabai, said that there was nothing for her family in the nuclear project. “We know how to farm, not to work with machines. After the government removed us from mother Narmada’s lap, we prepared these fields with our blood and sweat. Now they want us to give this away. It is better to kill us.”

At the village square, around forty villagers under the banner Chutka Parmanu Sangharsh Samiti (CPSS) have been protesting since May 21. They have also staged protests in Jabalpur, the divisional headquarters and in the capital Bhopal, this month. They are supported by the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), The CPI-ML (KN Ramachandran group) and the CPI.

After the Centre cleared the project in 2009, protests began. In 2010, survey teams were denied entry to the village and the gram sabhas of Chutka, Kunda and Tatighat villages passed resolutions against the project. After the district administration served a land acquisition notice, the protestors have handed over their memoranda of dissent to the administration and the governor.

The protestors are demanding that the Environment Impact Assessment report be given to them in simple Hindi. The report by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Pune, in English was released last month with a summary in Hindi. They say that they will physically prevent the public hearing and face police canes, if they have to.

“The hearing will give legitimacy to this illegal attempt to take away our lands. How can we understand all this technical details. We are being tricked into losing everything we have for a project that will destroy the river and our livelihood,” said Nauratan Dubey, secretary of the CPSS.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited has recruited and trained 40 youth to canvass in favour of the 1400 MW project. An exhibition bus highlighting benefits of nuclear energy has also been doing the rounds. Advertorials by Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous central body, have appeared in local Hindi dailies this week.

District Magistrate and Collector Lokesh Jatav told this reporter, “We want this to be inclusive… NPCIL has take groups of villagers to visit Tarapur Atomic Power Station near Mumbai. You must understand that the kind of rehabilitation and resettlement package offered today will be much better than the Bargi oustees got 30 years back.”

He added that at least 3,500 jobs will be created for locals. The administration is currently identifying trades in which 1,000 youth can be trained. The residential complex of NPCIL employees will also create a demand for local farmers.

Prem Singh Kudape, a man with his infant son at the protest, said that he does not want a job in the nuclear plant. “They are all contract jobs. Land is permanent. Even after we were sent away in 1984, undeserving people took away the jobs.”

The area falls under seismic zone 3, a high damage risk area. In 1997 an earthquake which recorded 6.2 on the Richter scale hit the area. Mr. Jatav allayed fears of a Fukushima like disaster saying that the government’s experts could not be wrong and they were willing to consider all objections to their report.

Gulzar Singh Markam, vice president of the GGP which commands the respect of adivasis in the region, said, “If it is so safe, let them build it in Bhopal by the Upper Lake. It can power the CM’s house.”

 

Chutka Nuclear plant faces local resistance


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.

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