Why this deal is a bad idea

VIDEO: Watch physicist M V Ramana, from Princeton University, to know the implications of India’s nuclear negotiations with Australia and Japan

While on the one hand the mining of uranium in Australia has been known to bring misery, diseases, exploitation and discrimination to the aboriginal communities, the Australian supply of uranium to India will boost its nuclear industry and the new reactor projects which stand to threaten the safety and livelihoods of the most vulnerable sections of the Indian society – farmers, fisherfolk, tribal, women and children.

The Indian nuclear industry has an extremely poor record on safety and has a toothless nuclear regulator, leading to legitimate apprehensions which have fuelled massive peaceful protests in
places like Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Mithi Virdi, Chutka, Kovvada and Gorakhpur. The Indian government has been brutally repressing the local communities dissent, brazenly depriving them of their democratic rights.

The Australian supply of uranium to India would also mean a legitimisation of India’s nuclear weapons status and indirectly boosting its weapons capacity as the domestic reserve of uranium
would become free for weaponisation. The surge of fundamentalist and jingoist forces in South Asia and rising military budgets and tensions between India and Pakistan has deteriorated the security
situation in the region and further arms race would be extremely dangerous.

A group of activists were arrested yesterday from the Australian High Commission in New Delhi when they went to protest against the uranium agreement, detained in the nearby Chanakyapuri police station for an hour or so, and later let off with warning and after our details were registered.

The police officials were so arrogant and kept saying we are disturbing the ‘investment atmosphere’ by such protests. They should be concerned only with maintaining law and order and since our protest was peaceful, they shouldn’t have arrested us.

But investment climate, development and progress etc words have been securitized now in India and it is the police which is supposed to have an opinion on this, not economists or citizens.

We strongly condemn such high-handedness. We feel thankful to the activists and aboriginal organisations in Australia who extended their solidarity to our struggle, which made it clear that it’s not an anti-Australia protest. It’s a protest to save the interests of the poor, and the environment, on both the sides who are threatened by the elite’s unhindered greed.

This deal is utterly unacceptable as it would fuel an anachronistic, anti-people and unsafe nuclear expansion in India. besides, the deal would unleash misery on the most vulnerable people on both the sides. The uranium mining in Australia is known to be racist, leaving the aboriginal communities helpless and victimised. After reaching the Indian shores, the uranium will cause contamination to the poor Indian people from the transport routes to the reactor sites. India has an extremely poor record of safety and its own mines and power plants have been causing irreversible damage to health and the surrounding environment.

The Indian govt, under the pressure of international nuclear lobby, has envisaged a manifold increase in the nuclear energy output over next few decades and is going ahead with newer plants in ecologically fragile and densely populated areas, where grassroots communities are strongly and non-violently resisting such projects. The government has unleashed brutal repression and terror on the anti-nuclear people’s movements.