Tuesday, January 4, 2011

GXE statement on Jaitapur nuclear reactor protests

Goenchea Xetkanracho Ekvott (GXE), an umbrella organization working closely with numerous Goan groups on agriculture and environmental issues, strongly condemns the Government of India and the State Government of Maharashtra for the dictatorial and uncostitutional measures being taken to suppress the legitimate struggle of residents of Jaitapur and neighbouring villages to voice their concerns regarding the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant.

GXE denounces the ongoing police atrocities and regime of terror unleashed by the State to silence the beleagured farmers of Konkan as an attempt to undermine our Constitution. Retired Supreme Court and High Court judges are among thousands of villagers slapped with criminal charges and prohibitory orders in a shameful display of medieval inquisitive repression. Innocent visitors, scientists and mediapersons are being stopped by swarms of armed CRPF and other security forces from accessing the entire region in a blatant attempt to stifle the voices of reason and truth. The almost complete media blackout regarding the ground reality in Jaitapur is a frightening reminder of the infamous Emergency. The State seems to be keen to give a message to all Indians that it is more than willing to treat innocent residents as if they are terrorists, not just in Kashmir, but in any other part of India.

The cause of this standoff between the State with thousands of armed forces and the entire executive and judiciary on one side, and the poor farmers on the other, is the ongoing land acquisition for the 10,000 MW nuclear power plant proposed at the Madban plateau located on the picturesque coast of Konkan. The Government's unholy secrecy and haste are attempts to hide the ugly truths regarding this project, which include issues fundamental to the safety and survival of millions of Indians living in the densely populated Konkan, Goa and neighbouring regions. There is not a single working reactor of this new technology in the entire World, and even the design is not finalized due to safety concerns. However, Environmental Clearance has been granted by the Indian Government to this project due to “strategic reasons”, without obtaining regulatory approval from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), and side-stepping the basic safety considerations. The design and detailed project specifications are yet to be submitted to the AERB. Yet, contractual agreements have been signed during the French President's recent visit to India, effectively awarding the French company Areva this 1 lakh crores project.

When proven indeginous nuclear reactors can be built for less than half the price, why is the Government hell bent on buying this untested and incomplete design from the French? It is our grave concern that the Indian Government is blindly attempting to salvage the French economy by gifting its dying nuclear industry this bonanza, but at huge costs to genuine Indian interests. This project is doomed financially as well as technologically, and even if the safety concerns are ignored, the issues related to soveregnity of our nation, economics, radioactive waste and other environmental aspects are significant.

GXE demands that the Indian Government removes all restrictions on freedom of speech, movement and association presently imposed on Jaitapur region and that it takes all measures necessary to restore our sagging confidence in the Indian Democracy immediately. We also demand that all issues regarding the design, life expectancy and decommissioning of the proposed plant, the procurement of fuel and disposal of waste, radioactivity, accident risks and safety, total project costs and comparison with alternative energy sources, purpose of the plant, environmental and social impact and Absolute Liability of the supplier are placed before the Indian Public, whose Fundamental Rights to Information and Life shall otherwise be crushed. We demand that until Public Approval is obtained after going though transparent and proper review procedures in Public Domain, the Land Acquisition process must be stopped and all Agreements and Contracts signed with Areva, or others, must be ignored by the Government.

GXE calls upon all Goans, residents of the Western Ghats and surrounding regions, and all other Indians to rise and defend our country from this blatantly illegal and unconstitutional attempt of the Government to appease Western Countries by feeding their dying industries at the cost of our economy, society, environment, and possibly even our very existence. If the Government fails to listen to the voice of reason, it shall be up to us, the people, to protect our Constitution, our lives, our lands and the future generations.