Call for support Justice for Suja Jones for taking on French Husband and Child X



Suja Jones, an Indian woman, has taken her French husband to court in the city of Bangalore, India, on charges of rape of their then 3 year-old daughter.
She is fighting a lonely battle.
The French authorities provided continued unilateral support to the accused, an employee at the French consulate in Bangalore, leaving the mother of three minor French citizens alone to fend for them.
The French media have given a very biased coverage of this case, based on the allegations of the accused father.
This undeniably added an unnecessary hardship on the already deeply wounded mother and children.
We, the undersigned, express our deep concern at the role and attitude of French authorities in this case, which has in many respects impeded and violated the right of the child to be protected and defended.
On the eve of the trial due to start on March 22, we express our solidarity with the 3 year old victim and support her mother in the defence of the child’s rights.
Background Information :
For a comprehensive account of the role of French authorities as well as local Bangalore police, see Suja Jones’ appeal to the women assembled in New York during the March 2013 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), devoted this year to violence against women.
(URL: http://www.sacw.net/article3977.html)
This appeal was widely circulated to women’s organisations worldwide during the CSW and beyond.
Several actions were undertaken to demand from France a more ethical attitude in this case :
President Hollande during his February 2013 visit to New Delhi was requested to grant equal treatment to both parties, after his services received the lawyers of the accused at the Elysée Palace.
In a letter dated February 10, 2013, attention of the Minister of Women’s Rights in Paris, France, was drawned to actions of French diplomatic representation in India in support of the accused employee, juxtaposed with a campaign of harassment and slander against the mother.
The Minister was made aware of the following actions by senior French officials in India, who

helped empty the joint account of the couple by cashing cheques emitted by the accused father from his jail ti teh benefit of the deputee consul, leaving Suja Jones and the three children without means of subsistence ;
still retain the passports of the French children of the couple, upon request of the accused father, in blatant disregard for the Indian court’s decision to grant temporary custody to the mother while the case is pending in court ; this also contravenes the obligation under French law for every French citizen to carry identity documents;
stood by the father in court while ignoring the presence of the mother and her lawyers ;
pretend that this is a marital dispute not a rape case, although no divorce case has been filed till date;
did not respond positively to any of the requests by the mother for financial and legal help.
Demands for clarification on France’s representatives’ wrong doings were also sent to the Ministries of Home Affairs and of Foreign Affairs.
While the Ministry of Women’s Rights and the Ministry of Home Affairs simply ignored the letters and demands for clarification, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained that this was a case of marital dispute, and justified the actions taken by France’s representatives in India.
Taken to task by several individuals and women’s organisations in France, the French Consular authorities now undertake to prove their concern for the very children they deprived of means of subsistance and of identity documents, by further harassing their mother, for instance by sending her surprise visits by the Child Protection services, as if she were the accused in the case.
Meanwhile, the French media, ignoring early medical reports and other experts’ testimonies, have presented a totally one sided picture of the case, just highlighting the point of view of the accused.
And men’s rights groups in India are at the forefront of supporting the accused father.
On February 23, 2013 an ad hoc support committee was formed, which called on French women organisations to openly question the role of France in this case.
The ad-hoc support committee also provided full information on the case to the Special UN Rapporteur on Violence Against women and to members of the Indian delegation to the CSW.
Meanwhile, in Bangalore, it seems that pressure was put on medical doctors to revise their earlier conclusions on the reality of the rape, and on witnesses to withdraw their testimonies.
Moreover, it seems that some evidence has gone missing from the file, including police record of the first interrogation of the child.
DNA swabs taken on the abused child on the day of the last rape incident are now missing : DNA tests produced before the court do not carry either the DNA of the father or that of the child.
The accused father filed for his immediate release, stating that the results of DNA tests demonstrate that he is not implicated in the crime ; he also filed for custody of the children.
In wake of numerous wrongdoings and irregularities, as well as the absence of adequate and sufficient reaction from French authorities,
we call on women and human rights organisations to join us and widely support our solidarity campaign for justice for Suja Jones and Child X.
initiated by:

organisations:

Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (siawi.org)
Espace Femmes International (EFI)
Women’s Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR)
Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal
South Asia Citizens Web (sacw.net)
Praja Rajakiya Vedike (www.facebook.com/prajarajakiya)
individuals:

Marieme Helie Lucas, Algeria / France
Rina Nissim, Switzerland
Lalia Ducos, Algeria / France
Harsh Kapoor
Fatou Sow, sociologue, présidente du groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal
Codou Bop, journaliste, coordonnatrice du groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal
We request all to endorse and sign our call for solidarity at:http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/solidaritywithsujajones/

 

Link patented drug prices to per capita income: Panel #patientrights


SEEKING AFFORDABILITY

Ag overnment panel has proposed that prices of patented medicines be based on the country’s per capi ta income, a move that would substantially reduce prices of costly drugs made by global pharmaceutical firms. 

The proposal, which seeks the input of other government agencies as well as industry groups, could provoke the ire of Big Pharma, which has clashed with India over protec tion of intellectual property price regulations for generic drugs, and compulsory licens es for costly medicines.
A panel formed under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers has recommended setting up a committee to negotiate with drugmakers to fix prices of costly drugs used to treat deadly diseases such as cancer, HIV and hepatitis.
The proposal is the latest in a series of measures taken by India to make medicines more affordable for the coun try’s 1.2 billion population.
“If we compare the per capita income with the prices of patented medicines in countries like Australia or France, prices in India are compara tively high and hence, they need to be regulated,” a senior ministry official told Reuters, declining to be identified because he was not authorized to speak with media.
Generic medicines account for more than 90% of India’s $13 billion pharmaceuticals market. US-based Abbott Laboratories has the largest share of the overall Indian drug market followed by Cipla.
The proposal, posted late on Monday on the ministry website, cites as an example the lung-cancer drug erlotinib HCL, sold by Roche Holding as Tarceva. In India, it costs Rs 35,450 for a month’s course of 100 mg tablets, equivalent to Rs 1,21,085 in France and Rs 1,21,650 in Australia.
Based on per capita gross national incomes, if the drug costs Rs 35,450 in India, its respective cost would be just Rs 11,643 in France and Rs 10,309 in Australia based on per capita income in the respective countries, the report said.
The Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, which represents for eign drugmakers in India, did not reply to questions from Reuters.
“If stringent price regula tions are enforced then latest drugs will not be made availa ble in India,” said Ameet Hariani, managing partner at Hariani & Co, a Mumbaibased law firm that advises drugmakers and other companies. REUTERS

 

 

Jaitapur nuclear power plant :A very expensive proposition


 

A very expensive proposition
MV Ramana and Suvrat Raju
February 12, 2013, HT
During his visit to India this week, French President Francois Hollande is likely to urge the government to conclude a questionable deal to purchase six nuclear European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) from the French company Areva for Jaitapur (Maharashtra). Though marketed as “the most advanced”

reactor, the EPR is commercially immature; not a single reactor has been commissioned anywhere in the world. Moreover at the construction sites at Olkiluoto (Finland) and Flamanville (France) costs and time have escalated dramatically from the initial projected figures, suggesting that each reactor will cost about Rs. 60,000 crore. So six could cost in excess of Rs. 3.5 lakh crore.To put this figure in perspective, each of the two reactors that Areva is hoping to sell in the next five years is larger than Maharashtra’s annual plan for 2012 (Rs 45,000 crore). Shockingly, the government agreed to purchase the reactors from Areva without a nominal competitive bidding process. The procurement rules in any branch of the government, including the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), mandate public tenders for any purchase aboveRs. 10 lakh.

Cables revealed by Wikileaks suggest that this peremptory decision was made in 2007. The government’s rationale was laid out by former DAE secretary Anil Kakodkar. In an article in 2011, Kakodkar wrote: “We also have to keep in mind the commercial interests of foreign countries and of the companies there… America, Russia and France were the countries we made mediators in these efforts to lift sanctions, and hence, for the nurturing of their business interests, we made deals with them for nuclear projects.” Indian officials are aware that this attitude is costly. In another cable, the general manager of the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) admitted that India had “paid a ‘high’ price for French reactors from Areva”.

Unsurprisingly, the government has been reticent about discussing the modalities of the contract it is negotiating with Areva. It has failed to support its assertions that “the cost per unit of electricity from the Jaitapur plant will be competitive to the other power plants” with any substantive data on costs. When asked, it demurred, even in Parliament, with the excuse that “the detailed project proposals … are under finalisation.”

To check the veracity of the government’s claims, we recently used the best available public data on fuel prices and capital costs, assumed a substantial markdown to account for lower costs of labour in India and estimated the expected tariff from the EPR reactors. This calculation involves some rather detailed accounting, but the basic procedure for setting the electricity tariff from nuclear plants was laid out by NPCIL in 2008.

By adapting this procedure to the EPR  –  and using the most recent guidelines of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission  – we estimated that if NPCIL were to follow the regulations faithfully, the first-year tariff from the EPR would be about R14 per unit. This assumes that reactor construction starts next year and is completed on the same pattern as the Kudankulam I and II reactors, which, given the untested nature of the EPRs, is generous. The calculated tariff is a far cry from current or expected future tariffs from other base-load power projects.

Since it cannot pass on such a high tariff on to consumers, the government may absorb the loss and sell electricity at a lower price. However, every rupee of under-recovery will cost the exchequer about Rs. 1,000 crore per year. Just to halve the tariff from the first two reactors down to Rs. 7, the government may need to spend Rs. 14,000 crore per year.

This is in addition to indirect subsidies in the existing revenue model. For example, NPCIL plans to put in its equity early, and then let it lie idle with no return for the period of construction that may easily extend beyond a decade. The government may increase these handouts in various ways – for example, by putting pressure on public sector banks to provide cheap credit for the project. The issue here is not Maharashtra’s need for electricity. Rather it is why the government has chosen this particular company, and its overpriced technology, to meet this need.
MV Ramana and Suvrat Raju are physicists associated with the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace. Ramana is the author of The power of promise: Examining nuclear energy in India
The views expressed by the authors are personal

 

Jaitapur a critical issue: It’s all about money, honey!


English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

 

IndiPublished: Friday, Feb 15, 2013, 8:00 IST
Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

India and France on Thursday reviewed the progress on the controversial Jaitapur nuclear project, which is being constructed by French nuclear giant Areva and India’s public sector nuclear company Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), even as issues related to cost of this this multi-billion dollar deal remains pending.

“Today, President Hollande and I exchanged views on a number of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest. We reviewed progress on the Jaitapur nuclear power project and reiterated our commitment to its early implementation as soon as the commercial and technical negotiations, which have made good progress, are completed,” prime minister Manmohan Singh said.

India had signed agreements for the 9,900 MW nuclear power project in 2010 but owing to different factors such as protests from locals, difficulty in land acquisition, liability in case of accident and cost of the project, it has not moved ahead a great deal. Environmentalists have also critically opposed its construction voicing concern about seismic activity in the area specially after the Fukushima incident in Japan.

However, the Indian government has reiterated its commitment to go ahead with the project several times but has also admitted that there are issues pertaining to the cost of the project and technology.

In a joint statement released here on Thursday, French president Francois Hollande and Manmohan Singh expressed satisfaction regarding the project. “In the field of energy, the leaders expressed satisfaction in regard to the ongoing collaborative projects in R&D on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and agreed to further strengthen bilateral civil nuclear scientific cooperation,” the joint statement said.

“Recalling the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 4 February, 2009 between NPCIL and Areva for setting up of 6 x 1650 MWe EPR units at Jaitapur, the leaders reviewed the status in regard to the first two EPR units and noted that NPCIL and AREVA were engaged actively in techno-commercial discussions. They expressed hope for the expeditious conclusion of the negotiations. It was emphasized that the nuclear power plant at Jaitapur would incorporate the highest safety standards,” the joint statement noted.

Meanwhile, sources in the central government told DNA: “There has been satisfactory progress on talks regarding the nuclear project. As far as safety issues are concerned, Areva is bringing the latest technology. And even before the reactor at India would be built they would have built nuclear reactor using same latest technologies at several other places. So by the time it would be built in India all those things the company would learn while building those could be incorporated in Jaitapur plant.”

 

 

 

India’s #UID has a French Arms Deal Connection #Rafale #Aadhaar


Rafale has an Aadhar connection
JOYEETA BASU  NEW DELHI | 5th Feb 2012

M88-2 Rafale engine

Rafale, the French medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA), which was selected by India for a $18 billion deal has an interesting link with the unique identification project. One of Rafale’s most important manufacturers belongs to the Safran group, which is closely involved with Indian unique identification card, Aadhar, project. Safran is also part of other significant deals that the French have struck with India.

The Rafale is manufactured primarily by a consortium of three French companies, Dassault, Snecma and Thales. Of these, Snecma, which manufactures Rafale’s engine, is a Safran group company. The French government has 30.2% stake in Safran.

The Safran group, which specialises in defence, aerospace propulsion and equipment, and security, also has Morpho among its many companies. Morpho specialises in biometric identification systems, explosive detection systems (EDS) for hold baggage, smart cards, etc. In India, Morpho is best known for its tie-up with Mahindra Satyam. In July 2010, Morpho and Mahindra Satyam were selected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as one of the key partners for the initial stages of the UID project. According to a 30 July 2010 Mopho press release, “Mahindra Satyam and Morpho will develop and maintain systems that will cross-check every new application by sifting through the biometrics database, preventing accidental or fraudulent duplication and ensuring that each identification number is unique. Morpho will provide the biometric technology while Mahindra Satyam will integrate and provide support across platforms and databases.”

In July 2010, a US company, L1 Identity Solutions too was selected for the “implementation of biometric solution for UIDAI”. Interestingly, in September 2010, Safran announced that it was acquiring L1 Identity Solutions for $1.09 billion. L1 would join Safran’s security business and would be renamed as Morpho Trust. So France now has a significant business interest in the UID project.

In fact, there are several other Safran angles to India-France business ventures. Snecma, which has designed, developed and produced the M88-2 engine for Rafale, is also the manufacturer of the M53 jet engine that powers the Mirage 2000 family of aircraft. India has more than 60 such engines in service.

Snecma is also closely associated with the ongoing upgrade of 50 ageing Mirage aircraft. The deal for this was signed during Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to India in December 2010.

Snecma also has a 50:50 joint venture with HAL, which supplies some components for the commercial CFM56 engine that the French company manufactures. It also has a mechanic training centre in Hyderabad, the fourth such in the world. The other three are in France, China and the US.

Land rights activists angered as India’s forest act undermined #humanrights


The government’s decision to allow major infrastructure projects to go ahead without obtaining consent for forest clearance paves the way for the violation of village land rights, say rights groups

Matthew Newsome

Friday 15 February 2013

guardian.co.uk

The living tree root bridges of Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, India - 2011

—-

Land and tribal rights in India have been dealt a new blow after the government announced last week that major infrastructure projects will be exempt from obtaining consent for forest clearance from tribal communities living in the forest, a decision that undermines the importance of the country’sForest Rights Act.

 

Tribal and forest rights activists say the decision by India’s ministers leaves village councils (gram sabhas) powerless to reject the building of roads, railways, transmission lines, canal systems, pipelines or other projects that potentially violate their land rights.

 

“This is serious breach of trust and a huge step back in ensuring the dignity and survival of traditional forest-dwelling people across the country. Forests are going to be cleared to make way for a particular kind of economic development; it will adversely impact communities and the environment,” said Dr Swati Shresth, from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.

 

The decision was adopted at a meeting convened by prime minister Manmohan Singh and attended by environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo. “The ministry took a decision that, subject to [the] Forest Rights Act, there will not be requirement of consent of each of the gram sabhas through which such linear projects such as roads, canals, pipelines, transmission towers etc pass,” said Natarajan.

 

The 2006 act is a landmark piece of legislation recognising the rights forest-dependent communities have over the landscape they have traditionally inhabited. It mandates that forest dwellers cannot be resettled unless their traditional rights have been recognised. It is seen as the single most important piece of legislation protecting and preserving the country’s biodiversity and the rights of tribal groups. By no longer gaining the consent of communities, the government stands accused of effectively overturning key provisions of the act.

 

“All traditional forest-dependent communities can be impacted including those who might have procured rights under the FRA and those who are still struggling for its implementation in their area,” said Shresth.

 

In 2009, the ministry of forests and environment (MoFE) made the consent of affected forest communities mandatory for all projects that would destroy forests. The move was in response to the attempt by British mining company Vedanta to clear swaths of forest in Orissa state belonging to the Dongria tribe. Last week’s announcement effectively revokes the 2009 order.

 

However, the government rejects claims that it is diluting rights in the name of streamlining big business, saying it will continue to enforce the provisions of the act “where there is significant impact on lives and livelihoods”.

“The proposed changes will enable land grabbing and the violation of rights of traditional forest dwellers, and sends a clear message that rights granted under the FRA are not inalienable, but subject to the whims of the government of the day,” said Shresth.

 

Such concerns were expressed to the prime minister’s office in a letter signed by a coalition of international forest rights movements. “We believe that it is against the democratic principles to make centralised decisions about the extent of social impact worth considering while diverting forests over which individuals and/or village community may have ‘inalienable’ forest rights vested through FRA. Overriding of such processes can lead to the danger of assuming that all rights can be monetised and negotiated,” it said.

 

Activists say this move will allow industry to build roads or canal systems for mining projects to transport extracted minerals to the refinery.

 

“The only objective is mining access. Mining companies need six road highways and optical fibre installations. Tribal communities don’t want this, and don’t want their precious forests replaced by these. The only beneficiaries of this amendment are the mining companies. This is about GDP, not about the rights of India’s tribal communities,” said Sanjay Basu Mullick from the All India Forum of Forest Movements.

 

The order threatens the area’s biodiversity, which risks discrediting India’s status as the current chair of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and of the Nagoya protocol, and the implementation of these international obligations on sustainable use and protection of biodiversity.

 

Against a backdrop of sluggish economic growth, government ministries have been lobbying the MoFE to exempt major infrastructure projects from FRA obligations. The country’s national highway authority took the MoFE and the ministry of tribal affairs to the supreme court in January, seeking FRA exemption for projects. According to the authority, 101 infrastructure projects had been frozen due to clearance delays.

 

“The move is part of a larger endeavour to restore investor confidence by a government facing general assembly elections in 2014. Various environmental protection rules have been seen to be responsible for a slump in the growth rate,” Shresth added.

I

 

“We don’t want more money… we don’t want Jaitapur”


Mumbai, February 15, 2013

Staff Reporter, The Hindi

The Maharashtra government’s decision to give increased compensation to the Project-Affected People (PAP) of the proposed 9900-MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP), in the backdrop of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India, has met with serious opposition.

The farmers and fishermen fighting against the JNPP on Thursday rejected the increased compensation package declared by the government, calling it a “cruel joke.”

“Never in our struggle against the project in the last three years, had we asked for increased compensation. We are against the nuclear project and will not let it happen even if the compensation is increased further,” said Pravin Gavankar, president, Janhit Seva Samiti, a people’s body fighting against the proposed power plant.

“The corrupt government feels that villagers can be bought. We want to tell them that we do not want money and we do not want the project,” he said.

The government had on Tuesday approved increased compensation. As per the revised package, the PAP would now get Rs. 22.5 lakh per hectare instead of the earlier compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 4.5 lakh per hectare. However, the government has made it clear that the increased compensation would be solely for the JNPP and not for any other project in the State.

The JNPP, to be set up by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), is a part of the India-France civilian nuclear cooperation. In 2010, prior to the visit of the then President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) had given environmental clearance to the project, with 35 conditions.

“The spineless Indian government seems hell-bent on satisfying the French government at any cost, rather than its own people. Every time those French officials visit India, our government makes announcements related to JNPP. It is the lowest level to which any government can fall,” said Satyajit Chavan, convener, Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, an umbrella body of organisations opposing the JNPP.

The protesters have planned a m

arch in Mumbai during the State Assembly session to be held next month.

 

The Reality at Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant , Mr. Hollande #mustshare


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anuj Wankhede and Cressida Morley

French President Francois Hollande is making his first visit out of Europe since he was elected. And he has chosen India as a preferred destination for his visit starting tomorrow – 14th February.

On his radar is to sell Areva’s failed EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) nuclear reactors to India. Even as his own country has neither been able to implement the EPR reactors in France or Finland and nor has the US regulator certified it, the Indian government is eager to set up these reactors in a huge area in coastal Maharashtra – at Jaitapur – a highly bio-diverse region that needs preservation.

The carrot which the French president is dangling is the supply of fighter jets to India on “favorable” terms. The Indian government for want of more and more weapons (and probably with an eye on making some money out of the deal?) is turning a blind eye to the enormous damage this project will cause. Anuj Wankhede and Cressida Morley write about the Jaitapur protestors, who despite all efforts of the French and Indian governments, remain determined that this project will never see the light of day.

The beauty of the Ratnagiri coastline and surrounding area has to be seen to be believed. Any government official from DAE to NPCIL would be crazy to think of destroying or even putting at risk this kind of natural biodiversity. It is already established that Maharashtra state itself does not require any more electricity than is already being produced and the Chief Minister himself is on record as saying that the state will be free of any load shedding by the year end.

So for whom is the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) being built?

Certainly not for the local people, the fishers, farmers and ordinary people whose livelihoods will be destroyed and their lives threatened. The government tells us that nuclear power is needed for ‘development,’ but the people who will be directly affected by JNPP have a very different ideas of what development is and whom it should benefit.

The fishing village of Sakhri-nate, is just a few kilometers by road from the proposed JNPP site – only 3 kilometers as the crow flies. You can see the site clearly just across the sea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASlogans such as ‘No nuclear’ and ‘Areva go back’ are painted on walls all around the village and the people against JNPP vehemently say they are prepared to give their lives rather than allow the plant to come up. Recent newspaper reports have shown just how desperate NPCIL is to do a deal with the fishers by raising the compensation for land acquisition to Rs. 22.5 lakh per hectare from Rs.1.5 to 4 lakh announced previously.

But the fishers are adamant…it doesn’t matter how much they are paid when their livelihoods, their community, in fact their very lives are on the line.

Most of those opposed to the plant in Sakhri-nate are fishers but there are people of different professions as well, showing that it is not just a direct concern for livelihood but a much wider fear that JNPP will in fact destroy their lives and community. The activists have detailed knowledge of how the JNPP will affect their lives. For fishers, this knowledge may not be scientific in the academic sense of the word, but every day they observe the sea intimately as their lives literally depend on it. The knowledge that they have gained through long experience cannot be easily dismissed.

The fishing community is concerned that the effluent water used for cooling the nuclear plant – which will be pumped back into the sea at a temperature – at least 5-7 degrees Celsius higher than the natural temperature – will have a disastrous effect on the fish population and their breeding. The Government is trying to assure the fishers that a rise in seawater temperature would not affect the fish, except possibly to make them bigger! Obviously, the fishers are not buying this at all. They claim that the fish that presently inhabit their fishing ground will not be able to live in such a changed environment. Even if these fish are able to swim away to other areas of the sea, shellfish, for example cannot escape so easily and will surely perish. Perhaps, different species of fish will come to the area due to the raised temperatures but this also represents an unknown for the fishers. In any case, they refuse to believe that the environment will simply remain the same with such enormous quantities of heated water being pumped into the sea. As one fisher put it, even a refrigerator emits heat which can affect the surrounding air temperature and living things, so how can the government claim that an entire nuclear power plant will have no impact on the environment?

Others have expressed fears of terrorism and natural disasters.

The cliffs surrounding Sakhri-nate, directly opposite the proposed site for JNPP, are spectacular to say the least. The solid rocks here weather the eternal beating of the sea waves. Yet, this rock was split wide apart by lightening and electrical storms that are common in the area. It’s easy to imagine similar lightening bolts falling just a few kilometers away, and the damage they would do to a nuclear reactor. It would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions indeed.

P1190019Especially after Fukushima, the fear of accidents is very real and no amount of government assurances has convinced the activists that JNPP will be totally safe. The level of distrust towards the government is very high and palpable. Activists claim that the government contradicts its own reports and does not disclose ‘inconvenient’ information besides they feel the government is least concerned about the locals.

Rather than the government, Sakhri-nate fishers would rather believe their fellow fishers from another part of the state – Tarapur. They have travelled to nearby Tarapur which as the site for the first nuclear reactor to be built in India and they have seen what the nuclear power plants have done to the fishing catch. The fishing community at Tarapur is practically out of business due to the low catch and the enforced security ring around the plant which forces them to take long detours into the sea and which entails huge costs on diesel – not to mention the time spent.

At Tarapur, the locals were told 40 years ago that the Tarapur NPP was a matter of national pride. The local community and fishermen in that area gladly agreed to its construction, fully believing government assurances that the fish and environment would not be affected and that they would be adequately compensated. They have since been thoroughly betrayed and have warned their fellow fishers near Jaitapur to fight against JNPP – lest the same fate befalls them. The information received by the Sakhri-nate fishers from the Tarapur fishers is based on their bitter experiences and a shared understanding of the sea and the environment, both of which are integral parts of their lives and livelihoods. Who would you rather believe—the actual experience of your peers or the theoretical science of distrusted governments?

Ideas on development: worlds apart

The rift between the local community, dead-set against the NPP and the government, equally determined to build it, is not just about differing information and mistrust. There is a more fundamental difference in worldview between these two parties. While the government’s idea of ‘development’ focuses on achieving ambitious electricity generation, attracting foreign capital and making more and more ‘goods’ for an ever-expanding market, the fishers of Sakhri-nate have different ideas.

no nuclearAs one local explained “We are already developed. We don’t need anything more; we have full employment in the village. Even disabled or illiterate people have jobs, mending fishing nets etc. We have enough electricity; all we ask is that the government allows us to pursue our livelihoods. We have enough money to live well now, as fishing is a lucrative industry, but if we loose our livelihood, we will have nothing.”

Others said that if development was needed at all in their village, it should be in the form of increased educational facilities – including vocational schools – so that their children would get better employment opportunities – if they choose to. There are also calls for growth which minimizes environmental destruction and which compliments local industries such as food processing factories for the fish and mangoes, also produced in large quantities in the Jaitapur area. The already present ice factories, which provide ice to pack the fish so they can be sent to different parts of the country, are another obvious example of this type of development.

It would seem that the government has underestimated the level and type of knowledge and information that the local community has or even tried to understand their concerns – leave alone address them. This is not to mention the high income and living standards enjoyed by the fishermen who do not want this so called lop sided “development” at such high risks.

But most of all, the official model of development is being called into question: Why should large-scale industrial projects be encouraged, in this case a foreign-funded project that carries a risk of unimaginable destruction, and why should local communities be required to sacrifice their lives and livelihoods for lighting up city malls while the locals who are being affected by the project will still have only erratic power supply – just as is the case at Tarapur?

(The views expressed in the article are the personal views of the authors and not those of any organization or institution.)

 

After 200 years, Paris lifts ‘ban’ on women in pants #womenrights #Vaw


paris trouser ban

Feb 05, 2013 |

Women in Paris can finally wear trousers without fear of criminal prosecution after the government said a ban imposed over 200 years ago no longer had any legal effect.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French minister for wom-en’s rights, said the ban, imposed on November 17, 1800, was incompatible with modern French values. The municipal order required Parisian women to seek permission from the police if they wanted to “dress like a man” by wearing trousers. It was modified in 1892 and 1909 to allow women to wear trousers if they were “hol-ding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse”, but had officially remained on the books.
Answering a question in the Official Journal of the French Senate, Ms Valla-ud-Belkacem said while it had not been formally struck down, the order was in effect abrogated. “This order is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men,” she said. Pari-sian women had demanded the right to wear trou-sers during the French Revolution, when working-class revolutionaries were known as “sans-culo-ttes” for wearing trousers instead of silk-knee bree-ches (culottes) favoured by the bourgeoisie.

According to the Connexion, a campaign to scrap the outdated legislation was launched in 2010 however it was not deemed a government priority.

France’s minister of women’s rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, took up the case last year and announced the lifting of the ban this week.

New Centralized Nuclear Plants: Still an Investment Worth Making?


LANDSHUT, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 01:  A cooling t...

(Image credit: Getty Images Europe via @daylife)

Just a few years ago, the US nuclear renaissance seemed at hand.  It probably shouldn’t have been.  Cost overruns from Finland to France to the US were already becoming manifest, government guarantees were in doubt, and shale gas drillers were beginning to punch holes into the ground with abandon.

Then came Fukushima.  The latter proved a somewhat astonishing reminder of forgotten lessons about nuclear power risks, unique to that technology:  A failure of one power plant in an isolated location can create a contagion in countries far away, and even where somewhat different variants of that technology are in use. Just as Three Mile Island put the kaibosh on nuclear power in the US for decades, Fukushima appears to have done the same for Japan and Germany, at a minimum.  It certainly did not help public opinion, and at a minimum, the effect of Fukushima will likely be to increase permitting and associated regulatory costs.

By contrast, when a gas-fired plant in Connecticut exploded during construction a few years ago, it didn’t affect the public perception of other gas plants.  But Fukushima and nuclear power is another story.  The stakes are so much bigge

Even without Fukushima, the verdict on large centralized US nukes is probably in, for the following reasons:

1)     They take too long: In the ten years it can take to build a nuclear plant, the world can change considerably (look at what has happened with natural gas prices and the costs of solar since some of these investments were first proposed).  The energy world is changing very quickly, which poses a significant risk for thirty to forty year investments.

2)     They are among the most expensive and capital-intensive investments in the world; they cost many billions of dollars, and they are too frequently prone to crippling multi-billion dollar cost overruns and delays.  In May 2008, the US Congressional Budget Office found that the actual cost of building 75 of America’s earlier nuclear plants involved an average 207% overrun, soaring from $938 to $2,959 per kilowatt.

3)     And once the investments commence, they are all-or-nothing.  You can’t pull out without losing your entire investment.  For those with longer memories, WPPS and Shoreham represent  $2.25 bn (1983)  and $6 bn (1989) wasted investments in which nothing was gained and ratepayers and bondholders lost a good deal.

Some recent investments in centralized nuclear plants in other countries highlight and echo these lessons.

Electricite de France’s Flamanville plant has seen its budget explode from 3.3 to 6 bn (July 2011) to 8 bn Euros ($10.5 bn) as of last December, with a delay of four years over original targets.  EDF in part blames stricter post-Fukushima regulations for part of the overrun).  To the north, Finland’s Olkiluoto – being constructed by Areva – has seen delays of nearly five years, and enormous cost overruns.  The original turnkey cost of 3.0 bn Euros has skyrocketed beyond all fears, increasing at least 250%.  Just last month, Areva’s CEO conceded “We estimate that the costs of Olkiluoto are near those of Flamanville.”

In the US, recent experience doesn’t look much better:  Progress Energy (now Duke) first announced the 2,200 MW Levy nuclear project in 2006, with an estimated price tag of $4 to $6 bn and an online date of 2016.  The cost estimated increased to $17 bn in 2008.  This year, Progress announced the project would cost $24 billion and come online in 2024.  The Levy plant currently has a debt in excess of $1.1 bn for which customers had already paid $545 million through 2011.  As of now, the utility plans to proceed, with the Executive VP for Power Generation stating ”We’ve made a decision to build Levy…I’m confident in the schedule and numbers.”

In Georgia, Vogtle Units 3 and 4 (owned jointly by a number of utilities, including Georgia Power) appear in somewhat better shape, but issues have cropped up there as well.  Customers currently pay $10 per month in advance to cover financing associated with the two 1,117 MW units.  Georgia Power is allowed by legislation to recover $1.7 bn in financing costs of its estimated $6.1 bn portion of the $14 bn plant during the construction period.  However, there have already been some cost problems, and Georgia Power is disputing its responsibility to pay $425 million of overruns resulting from delays in licensing approvals.  Total cost excesses to all partners total $875 mn.  The two units were expected to come online in 2016 and 2017, but in a Georgia PSC meeting in December, an independent monitor noted that expected delays of fifteen months are largely as a result of poor paperwork related to stringent design rules and quality assurance.  Those delays will likely continue to cost more money.

Unfortunately, these experiences are not outliers.  From 2007 to 2010, the NRC received 18 nuclear applications ( of which only twelve are still active).  Of these, the consulting outfit Analysis Group reported that for eight plants where they were able to obtain two or more comparable cost estimate, 7 are over budget (including Levy and Vogtle), with updated numbers “often double or triple initial estimates.”  This is consistent with an MIT study estimating ‘overnight’ costs nearly doubling from 2002 to 2007.   As utilities management consultant Stephen Maloney was quoted in the Analysis Group study “No one has ever built a contemporary reactor to contemporary standards, so no one has the experience to state with confidence what it will cost.  We see cost escalations as companies coming up the learning curve.”

Last August, Exelon abandoned plans to construct two facilities in Texas, blaming low natural gas prices.  Two months later, Dominion Resources announced that it would shut down its existing Kewaunee station in Wisconsin as a consequence of low gas prices and a lack of buyers.  The latter move was particularly eye-opening: building a nuclear plant is supposed to be the expensive part, while operation is expected to be relatively cheap.

So it appears that the nuclear renaissance may be largely over before it started.  And yet, many projects have not yet been canceled, with utilities and ratepayers accepting ever more risk in order to rescue sunk costs. In many cases, these costs have soared or will soar into the billions. As risk management expert Russell Walker of the Kellogg School of Management is quoted as saying in the  Tampa Bay Times “When the stakes get higher, it gets harder for organizations to walk away…this happens a lot.  It’s the same problem a gambler has: If I play a little longer, it’ll come around.

With low natural gas prices, efficient combined cycled turbines, more efficient renewables and a host of more efficient end-use technologies, that’s a bet fewer and fewer seem wiling to take.   Unfortunately for ratepayers at some utilities, they are at the table whether they like it or not…

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2013/01/15/new-centralized-nuclear-plants-still-an-investment-worth-making/

 

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