The explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and reports of a possible radiation leak on Saturday morning has strengthened the resolve of Maharashtra’s nuclear energy detractors in opposing the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant.
“We’ve been told by scientists, such as Anil Kakodkar, that the Chernobyl incident was an exception and it can’t happen again,” said Vivek Monteiro, social activist. “Claims of safety and improbable accident don’t stand to factual reality.”
For close to two years now, anti-nuclear activists and environmentalists have raised issues with regard to the safety design aspect of the Jaitapur plant and the storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste.
They now demand that Indian government reviews policies pertaining to the expansion of nuclear power.
Though the explosion in the Japanese nuclear plant was a result of a natural disaster, authorities were reported to have resorted to a controlled release of radioactivity to avert a severe situation similar to the Chernobyl disaster (Ukraine, 1986).
“All this time, questions over nuclear accidents were being trivalised by the government and government supported scientists. But the Japanese incident further validates various safety and security related aspects that we have been throwing up in relation to the Jaitapur plant,” said Adwait Pednekar of the Konkan Bachao Samiti.
Retired justice B J Kolse Patil said: “Our agitation will get even more forceful with the incident at Japan. But the capitalist lobby is so stubborn that they will go ahead with the project.”
Sitting CPI (M) MP Khagen Das from Tripura and former parliamentarian and CPI (M) member Subhashini Ali met the villagers protesting against the plant on Saturday.
Although Monteiro refused to take cognisance of the prohibitory orders issued as a text message on his mobile phone disallowing him to enter Ratnagiri district, he did not accompany the parliamentarians. “Entering the area would have caused a law and order problem,” said Monteiro.
“The level of opposition to the plant is incredible and the determination of the people to save their livelihood is very committed,” said Ali, who visited Mithgawane and Nate.
Ali added that Khagen will raise the issue in the Parliament on March 15 or 16 and demand that the Maharashtra government give a report in the House.