Chutka nuclear power project: Villagers threaten to launch agitation

Villagers in tribal-dominated Mandla district’s Chutka on Friday said they will launch an indefinite agitation against the proposed nuclear power plant following the state government’s recent decision to allot land for the project.
By Neeraj Santoshi and Neelesh Chaudhari | Hindustan Times, Bhopal/jabalpur
UPDATED ON SEP 26, 2015 08:33 PM IST

Villagers in tribal-dominated Mandla district’s Chutka on Friday said they will launch an indefinite agitation against the proposed nuclear power plant following the state government’s recent decision to allot land for the project.

Villagers have decided to start an indefinite agitation from October 25 after meeting the state governor on October 15, said Navrattan Dubey, secretary of Chutka Parmanu Sangarsh Samiti, which is protesting against the setting up of the nuclear power plant.

The government has allotted 41 acre of land without taking the villagers into confidence and without the permission of the gram sabhas, he said.

Villagers of Chutka, Tatighat, Kunda predominantly of the Gond Scheduled Tribe, have been protesting against the project since it was cleared by the Union government in 2009. Most of them were displaced by the Bargi Dam in 1984.

Earlier this week, the state cabinet approved the allotment of 41 acres of land for the 1,400Mw Chutka project being set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh Power Generation Company. The plant will come up at Chutka village in Narayan Ganj tehasil of the district, about 466km from Bhopal.

“Tribal people from the three affected villages are angry about the state government’s decision,” Dubey told HT.

A meeting was held on Thursday, in which people from neighbouring villages also participated to strategize on how to start an agitation and register their protest before the government, he said.

“The nuclear project would displace more than 450 families from the three villages and affect 575 villages in the region. We are not ready to accept the rehabilitation plan of the government. We don’t want to move to Potla where the government wants to rehabilitate us.”

Scientists find no endemic species around power plant site

Meanwhile, scientists have found no endemic species of flora or fauna in 30-kilometre radius around the site of the upcoming nuclear power plant at village Chutka.

A total of 114 fauna species were found in the survey, of which 15 are of butterflies, 11 of moths, four dragonflies, two beetles, 26 fishes, four amphibians, eight reptile species, 36 aves species and eight species of mammals.

While, a total 187 plant species were found that are commonly available in other parts of the state, including 64 species of trees, 48 herbs, 36 shrubs, 20 climbers, 39 grass and six fungus species.

Aquatic fauna included rohu and katla fish in Narmada river flowing close to the site in Mandla.

The survey was done in 2,828 square kilometre area within the 30-kilometre radius of the site. Almost 60% of the area is covered with water, while the remaining part is barren land with a small area of cultivated land with poor soil conditions.

“The baseline survey is considered to be crucial to keep watch on the biodiversity changes taking place after the nuclear power plant is set up,” Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (JNKVV) professors SD Upadhyay and AB Tiwari said. “The crop yield is below the state average in the area surveyed due to poor soil conditions.”

It took the scientists of JNKVV, Jabalpur, more than two years to complete the survey that started in December 2012 and concluded a few days back, Upadhyay said.

The survey was done at the behest of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai.

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