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Indo French collaboration: In troubled waters

By Paromita Pain - 13 Dec 2010 11:31:0 GMT
Indo French collaboration: In troubled waters

An Indo-French agreement to set up two of six nuclear power reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra (India) has recently been signed but for the local residents this plant isn't welcome news. Under the banner of the Konkan Bachao Samiti they are vehemently opposed to this construction and their objections have intensified over time.

The move which critics say was timed to match French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to India was cleared by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. Titled the 9900-MWe Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project, this is in collaboration with French giant Areva, which will supply reactor units and uranium and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.

Increasing protests

Residents say that while the ministry may have given permission for the plant to be developed and work on building staff utilities will soon be underway, they will not allow the plant to be built. While land acquisition for the project started in January 2010, only about 33 people have accepted their compensation claims while another estimated 2,335 people who might be deposed thanks to this plant haven't taken their claims. Fears of radiation effects and disposal of radioactive waste are matters of utmost importance and residents say nothing adequate has been done to ensure that these will be safely dealt with.

The plant will be using sea water from the Arabian Sea for steam generation and then releasing the hot water back into the sea. Fisher folk who depend on fishing for their livelihood say that this might cause the destruction of marine life that will adversely affect their trade.

Glaring omissions

While proponents are praising this project a s a vital move to provide for India's growing need for electricity, critics say that various omissions of negative impacts in the Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA) far outweigh the positives. The residents of this small village want to make clear that this fight isn't about land compensation nor are they holding out for more money or better compensation benefits. The ministry meanwhile has issued a statement that they will do their best to enhance the lives of the people by providing electricity and generating jobs without harming the environment. Meanwhile protests are still on and the residents say they won't rest till the proposal is rejected.