The central hall at St Xavier’s College had a packed audience on Thursday, the first day of the ‘people’s tribunal on the safety, viability and cost efficiency of nuclear energy’.

Environmental activists, researchers, project-affected persons and retired navy personnel deposed before the tribunal headed by A P Shah, former chief justice of the Delhi high court, and S D Pandit, former judge of the Bombay high court.

“In a democracy, people make their own informed choice. But in the case of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, neither the total cost of the project, nor the actual environmental damage is being made public,” said Surendra Gadekar, a physicist, who made a PowerPoint presentation. “Preliminary surveys for nuclear projects-whether Pokhran or Madban-were being done under false pretexts. The people are always kept in the dark when it comes to nuclear power or even accidents. The recent Fukushima episode is a classic example.”

The judges recorded the depositions of both activists and researchers, who presented papers on why nuclear power projects should be abandoned in general and why the Jaitapur project should be abandoned in particular. The three-day people’s court, to conclude on May 21, will give its verdict after hearing all the parties.

“It’s not just earthquakes or tsunamis that we need to worry about when it comes to large nuclear projects. At every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, radioactive material is released into the atmosphere,” said Soumya Dutta, convener, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha.

 

 

One of the project affected persons, Sriram Mayekar, who had come down all the way from Madban village in Ratnagiri district said that if people from the entire region are opposed to the project, why does the government want to still go ahead?

“The project will impact fisheries and we will also lose our land. We will face bullets and lathi, but not allow this project to come up,” said Mayekar.

 

 

 

 

On Friday, Dr V T Padmanabhan – senior scientist, Dr A Gopalakrishnan – Former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Dr M K Prabhu – geologist are some of the experts expected to make presentations in the tribunal. Meanwhile, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a public sector enterprise, has submitted a written presentation on nuclear energy that will be heard on Thursday by the tribunal.

 

Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA, 21st may, 2o11

Pictures Courtesy: Soumya Dutta