Kovvada is a fishing village with predominantly fishing community. But in the past few years, many of them have been going out to sell small items like caps in towns and cities. But the area surrounding it is rich in biodiversity and also in agriculture. This region witnessed an anti-nuclear movement led by women of the villages of Kovvada, Jeedipalem, Kotapalem among others, in 1988, when a nuclear plant was proposed here. The govt. had to withdraw its proposal.

However, the situation this time was different, post liberalisation, village communities were not so united, and then the local politics too played its games. First, the revenue officials like the MRO had given a report saying that this is barren land, while it is very clear that there are banana orchards, coconut farms, mango gardens, rice fields and Palm Groves.

Then the govt. machinery got to work, as usual, trying to lure the big guys – the sarpanches and tehsil president. So, when we went there to educate the people, people were agreeing to our views, but said, we cannot take an initiative, unless our sarpanches do so. Some of the sarpanches of nearby villages were also willing to take initiative, but were afraid to oppose the local Kingpin – one G Kiran Kumar, who was incharge of the entire Tehsil (he is the Mandal President as we call him here). He was from the Congress, as was the local MP Botsa Jhansi, who is the wife of Botsa Satyanarayana, (a central minister i think). She got elected in 2009, when Botsa Satyanarayana told the local people, “you elect my wife, and we will ensure that this project will not come here”. However, after elections, he started saying, “well, its center’s decision, so we cannot oppose it, we can only try to get the best package”.

So, opposing these guys was not a situation, the local folks wanted to get into. Then, the collector N. Srikanth started out another campaign, that he will give one job per family. We were actively campaigning on this, saying but what will he get you, no one is studied here beyond 12th class. then he said, “i will get people to study engineering” and then get them the jobs in the company.

Folks in the villages were getting ready for doing a dharna in october 2010, when they got feelers from G. Kiran Kumar, not to mess around. So, it got doused. And people agreed for Land Surveys.Then in March first week on the 5th of March, G. Kiran Kumar led delegation, had negotiations with the Revenue officials and they demanded for 30 lakhs compensation per acre. the officials refused, and then they decided that they will not part with their lands.

Meanwhile, the japanese incident happened, and then everyone decided to join hands and issued a press meet on 14th March 8am, saying they will not allow for the project to be set up. On the 18th March, they did a dharna in front of the local Tehsil Office and also did a Rasta Roko for an hour on the NH5. They are now planning to do a large scale movement across the region. However, today morning we heard the news, that including local CIs and SIs, about 50 policemen were deployed in the Kovvada village. And the reason they said was, “We got information, that International Terrorists are coming here / targetting this place”… so all the more reason why they should shelve the Nuke project! But the news on the 20th March, by the NPCIL is that Kovvada Project will go on as ever. The cost of the project is 1,20,000 crores, and the first reactor will be installed and ready for operation by 2012. And that they will take all safety measures against any possible disaster.

saraswati kavula