Indian People’s Tribunal (IPT), an initiative of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), a collective of lawyers working against human rights violations in India. Ours is among the longest-running people’s tribunals in the world, having conducted over forty inquiries on a range of issues, including several critical national investigations such as the inquiry on the misuse of POTA, the impact of the World Bank in India, and others. Our research, findings and recommendations are published in the form of reports which are then used to inform public opinion and, crucially, future litigation.

IPT is requested to conduct an inquiry into the environmental and human rights violations that have been committed in order to advance the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP), the Indian government’s controversial plan to build here in Maharashtra, the largest nuclear park in the world. The inquiry will also cover the increasingly pressing issue of nuclear plants and uranium mines across the country. This IPT event will take place from the 17th to the 19th of September in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.

Below is the brief concept note outlining the issue, why it is so important, and why we so urgently need your help. Knowing your group’s standing, we would appreciate your endorsement of this vital process as soon as possible. This will ensure that the name of your organisation is included in the literature for and after the event.If you would like to endorse this cause, do write back to us at [email protected]. Also, do let us know if members of your organisation or your beneficiaries would be able to attend the event.
Amaaya Raheja
on behalf of
The Indian People’s Tribunal
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concept note
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THE INDIAN PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ON ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATES INTO THE IMPACTS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS AND NUCLEAR MINES

Draft Concept Note

BACKGROUND: NUCLEAR POWER IN INDIA

Under the stewardship of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the Indian government is currently pursuing a fiercely pro-nuclear policy in the hope of meeting the country’s fast-growing energy needs. By the end of the decade it aims to have quadrupled the country’s current nuclear capacity, and to have tripled that further to 63,000 MW by 2030. This astonishing attempt to engineer a ‘nuclear  renaissance’ in India will be brought about by spending billions on importing reactors from France, Russia
and America to be located at sites like Tarapur, Rawatbata, Madras, Kaiga, Narora, Kakrapar and  kudankulam. To power these new reactors, new uranium mines will need to be opened by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) in different states across the country, in addition to ones already in  existence in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

THE JAITAPUR NUCLEAR POWER PROJECT (JNPP)

At Jaitapur, in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, the NPCIL has forged ahead with plans to install six new 1,650-MW reactors, which together will form the largest nuclear power park in the world. This is despite the disruption that will be caused to the ecosystem in the Konkan region, one of India’s richest biodiversity hotspots, which has been overlooked thanks to the at best dubious conclusions of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), on the basis of which the project was given the go-ahead. Firm, but peaceful, resistance to the project on the part of Jaitapur’s own local people is ongoing as they suffer their land being forcibly removed from them in order to make way for the new power stations. Democratic opposition to the plans has been
met with violent repression at the hands of the police, with police firings already leading to the death of two protesters earlier this year.

NUCLEAR POWER INTERNATIONALLY

The Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) comes at a time when the rest of the world has already started to retreat from the old march towards nuclear power. Germany, one of the world’s major industrial powers, has already committed to phasing out all its nuclear power plants by 2022, with Switzerland planning the same, while the people of Italy voted resoundingly against nuclear in a recent referendum. This international rejection of nuclear power comes as little surprise after the events at Fukushima, Japan, on 11th March this year when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami caused the world’s worst nuclear disaster since  chernobyl in the 1980s.

AREVA

The plans for Jaitapur are even more troubling in light of the fact that, after a deal with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the new reactors will be based on the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design by the French company Areva. This is the same Areva that is overseeing in Finland the installation of western Europe’s first new reactor since Chernobyl 42 months late, 90% over budget and mired in litigation. And the same Areva whose EPR design is yet to be approved by any nuclear regulator, but against which 3,000 safety issues have already been raised. And the same Areva that is showing few qualms about supplying the world’s largest nuclear park on a site shown to be prone to seismic activity.

THE CIVIL LIABILITY FOR NUCLEAR DAMAGE BILL

Further evidence that Indian interests are being sacrificed for the sake of international trade comes in the controversial Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, which was a condition of the 2008 civilian nuclear agreement between India and the US. The bill limits the compensation payable by companies in the event of a nuclear accident after some private firms, particularly those based in the States, expressed reluctance to build nuclear power plants in India without some sort of cap on their liability for any disaster on their watch, leaving the way open for another Bhopal-style travesty.

RENEWABLE OVER NUCLEAR

Very little about the JNPP makes sense for India. It cannot even claim to bring great economic benefit to the country, with unit generation costs three times higher than those for wind or coal, and most investment on services and materials for its installation due to end up overseas according to Areva’s own estimates. By all accounts, India’s nuclear industry has a poor track record when it comes to delivery, frequently missing targets, displaying less than rigorous safety while doing so, with less than 3% of the electricity it promised to show for it. Despite the financial support given to the development of nuclear energy over the last sixty years, the national production of electricity from nuclear atomic power was a negligible 4,120 MW in 2009 – only 2.8 % of the nation’s total electricity output.

By comparison, just fifteen years of investment in renewable sources of energy yielded 13,242 MW in the same year, 9% of the nation’s total electricity output. Indeed once hidden subsidies are accounted for, the cost of nuclear power is actually far more than it first appears. And even when nuclear power is viable, it presents the practical problems of meltdown risk, waste disposal and radiation. Furthermore with national uranium supplies insufficient to meet the country’s growing fuel requirement, India’s future lies in renewable, not nuclear, energy: safe, waste-free and comparatively cheap.

THE INDIAN PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL (IPT)

In the meantime, the people of Madban, Mithgavane, Karel, Niveli and Ansure have requested the Indian People’s Tribunal (IPT) to conduct an inquiry into the various violations that have been committed in order to
advance the JNPP thus far as well as investigate situation around the country. The IPT conducts fair and credible investigations on a wide array of human rights and environmental justice issues around the country.
Set up in 1993 at the National Consultation on Human Rights, Environment and the Law, it is one of the longest running people’s tribunals in the world. In the two decades since its inception, the IPT has conducted over forty inquiries on a range of issues, including several critical national investigations such as the inquiry on the misuse of POTA, the impact of the World Bank in India, and others. The research, findings and recommendations of the tribunal are published in the form a report which is then used to inform public opinion and future litigation.

The tribunal will be structured as follows:

  • The Panel (jury), made up of distinguished individuals from within and outside India, will hear the  depositions and render judgment.
  • The Experts, individuals with expertise in the field, will guide, help with research and assist the process and depose before the Panel with their unique persepective.
  • The Affected Groups who will provide depositions as evidence for the Tribunal to make its judgment.
  • The Endorsing Organisations, a large spectrum of organisations – women’s groups, trade unions, child rights groups, environmental groups and otehrs, will endorse and support the process.
  • The Secretariat, comprising of researchers and organisers, will provide administrative and logistical support to the process and assist with research.

Its terms of reference will include:

  1. To investigate the environmental and human impacts (including livelihood) of nuclear power plants (proposed and existing) and mines, with a special focus on Jaitapur, Maharashtra;
  2. To investigate whether due process of law was followed;
  3. To investigate whether the rights and intentions of the local people have been violated and democratic dissent suppressed by the use of force and state repression;
  4. To investigate the use/misuse of state machinery in land acquisition and construction of the plants/mines;
  5. To investigate the working and living, including the impacts on health, local population, labour and livestock
  6. To investigate the long-term sustainability of nuclear power generation, its costing and its implications and alternatives.

The Tribunal will be held in the neighbourhood of the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant over three days, starting with a site visit by the panel, following which a public hearing will be held. At the hearing affected groups from Jaitapur and from various power plants and mines will depose. Experts on health, environment, nuclear power and other scientists, financial analysts, geologists and others will also depose. In addition concerned members from the Government and other private stakeholders and press will be invited to participate.

The three day event will be held in the Ratanagiri district of Maharashtra from 17th-19th September 2011. This letter of invitation is for all affected groups, people and other concerned individuals and organisations. We urgently request you to endorse the process and forward this note to as many concerned groups and
people as possible.


For further details, please contact the Secretariat :

Deepika D’Souza: 9820039557 ([email protected])
Nayantara Bhatkal: ([email protected])
Gerard Lee: ([email protected])