Appeal for support from the ongoing massive campaign in Chutka against the proposed nuclear plant

Please join the yatra, help us break the media silence by spreading the word and support us financially

Dear friends,

Poster for the upcoming anti-nuclear convention in Chutka – click on the photo to see in big size

In the Narmada valley, people are facing displacement yet again: Due to the Bargi Dam, the first large dam built on the Narmada River, 162 villages in Mandla, Seoni and Jabalpur districts were displaced and impacted. The dam was conceived by the Central Water Commission in 1968, and its gates were closed in 1990 after completion of construction. Local protests then did not attract the national attention as the area is populated primarily by Adivasi communities. As there was no rehabilitation policy at that time, people were evicted from their homes and lands for cruelly meagre compensations. An intense struggle was waged since 1990 under the banner of the ‘Bargi Dam Affected and Displacees Association’. It is due to the intense agitations that the government was forced to heed the demands of collective rights over water-bodies, 3500 pattas for rights over forest land were awarded, temporary leases was granted for about 7000 acres of land in the submergence area for farming every year when the water recedes, and the process is underway to return the 350 acres which were acquired but did not come into the submergence area of the dam. Contrary to the inital target of irrigating 444,000 hectares of land, this dam irrigates only 110,000 hectares as the construction of canals has not yet been completed. The authorities have deceived people in the area by diverting water originally meant for irrigation. Besides announcing diversion of 24465.75 cubic meters of water per hour for the proposed nuclear plant in Chutka, the authorities have already dedicated 23 million cubic meters of water every year to the Jhabua thermal power plant and 35 million cubic meters of water to the SLS Energy Private Limited. Many other similar corporate players are eyeing the Bargi dam with their water-guzzling projects.

A nuclear project would threaten livelihoods, pose insurmountable risks: The nuclear power project has been proposed for Chutka village in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, whose residents were already displaced by the Bargi dam. The project was approved in principle by the central government in 2009. People of Chutka, Tatighat and Kunda have strongly opposed the project since its inception. Since Mandala is a scheduled district, where panchayat (village councils) have more rights under the Provisions of the Panchayats Act (PESA) meant for self-governance, panchayats have passed unanimous resolutions against the project and have approached the President of India, Governor and Chief Minister of the State and the Chairperson of the Central Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. For the past 8 years, the local communities have registered their dissent relentlessly through protest meetings and conventions in the region as well as in the state and national capitals. It was under such pressure from the people that the public hearings for providing environmental clearance for the project had to be canceled in 2013 twice – on 24th May and 31st July. The authorities only succeeded in orchestrating a fraudulent people’s hearing, conducted at the gun point as the villages were surrounded by massive police and para-military forces, on 14th February 2014. Even in the face of such brutal repression, thousands of local people protested outside the public hearing venue. Individual and collective objections have been filed under all the sections of land acquisition provisions. Despite these vehement protests, compensation for the land has been announced arbitrarily and sums of money have been credited to people’s bank accounts forcibly. The farmers had instructed their banks, in writing, not to accept any compensation amount. Even now, most of the land-owners have not taken the compensation amount unilaterally awarded to them. Most recently, women in Chutka village stopped the soil sample-collection work when the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) sent its affiliated engineers in October. They seized the equipment and forced the engineers to leave.

Outrageously, the NPCIL and local administration have been spreading the rumor that land-acquisition has been completed peacefully and with local people’s consent and hence protests now are unwarranted. To break this atmosphere of despair and suspicion in the surrounding 54 villages, people and activists conducted a meeting on 3 September this year and announced a protest yatra to raise awareness and consolidate the protests. People are resolute to take the struggle forward and even those who have taken the money forcibly credited into their accounts say it was against their wishes so they would still protest against the unsafe project on their land. This anti-nuclear yatra, that started on 2nd October 2017, on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, will culminate on 12th December in a massive protest meeting at the district headquarters in Mandla. We intend to register a loud and clear NO to the proposed nuclear project and warn the NPCIL as well as local authorities against their falsehoods and devious ploys. This intensive campaign has been well-received by the local people as well as by activists across India.

We look forward to your support for spreading the word so that more friends from other parts of the country join the struggle. We are also looking for financial support – individual contributions – to sustain this important and urgent campaign.

In solidarity,

Rajkumar Sinha
Chutka Parmanu Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti

Account Number – 10269622206
IFSC – SBI0012270
State Bank of India
Gwarighat, Jabalpur
Madhya Pradesh
INDIA