A delegation led by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP and comprising G C Bayya Reddy, general secretary of the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS), Shantharam Nayak, general secretary, KPRS, Shyamanath V Naik, president, Kaiga Struggle Committee, Mahabaleshwar N Kunabi, Santhosh Nagappa Marathe, Sanjeev Desai and Srikanth M Sethia met Shashidhar Reddy ,vice chairman, National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India in New Delhi on January 25, 2012 regarding the rehabilitation of 500 families affected by the Kaiga Nuclear Plant. The discussions held were positive and the authorities took a serious note of the issues discussed. They said they will discuss with the state government for the development of the area and if it does not happen, they will consider the option of relocation. The delegation emphasised and insisted on the relocation and other related demands.

The following is the text of the memorandum submitted by the Struggle Committee of Villagers within 5 km of Kaiga Plant, Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS).

Around 500 families are living in villages Hartuga, Balemani, Haruru, Balase, Kuchegar, Sulgeri (there is no other road to enter Sulgeri village) within five kilometres radius of the Kaiga Nuclear Plant in Karwar Taluka, Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka. The villagers are agitating since December 5, 2011 demanding shifting of habitation and rehabilitation with adequate compensation, agricultural lands at an alternate place and employment. They have been on dharna in front of the Uttar Kannada deputy commissioner’s office.

The six villages are situated in the dense Sahyadri Forests. When Kaiga Nuclear Project was being planned amidst stiff opposition and resistance, three zones had been earmarked in 1986 by the nuclear power board, now NPC, first as an exclusive zone. The area within a radius of 5 kilometres was earmarked as sterilised zone where human habitation was not to be allowed. The villages in this zone were to be entirely acquired by the government and full compensation was to be paid to the people for their land and belongings and measures were to be taken for proper rehabilitation. This was reiterated in the rehabilitation committee meeting held on June 12, 1996 for passing the land acquisition resolution constituted by the state government.

In the meanwhile, instead of resolving the basic problems, a second unit of Kaiga Plant was activated from March 16, 2000. The first unit was re-activated on November 16, 2000 after the dome collapse. The third and fourth units were activated on May 6, 2007 and January 20, 2011 respectively. Some of the villages in this region are surrounded by water of the Kaali River hydroelectric project. The first unit of the Kaali hydro electric project in Kodasalli was started on June 2, 1998 and the second and third were started on April 20, 1999 and August 28, 1999 respectively.

Thus, there are four nuclear units in the area. In addition, two hydroelectric units already existed there earlier. Moreover, the forest department started the “Tiger Project” in these hilly areas without making any infrastructural development. In cases of a disaster, rescuing people will be virtually impossible. Some of the villages have been handed over to the forest department for the rescue of wildlife and endangered species on June 3, 2011. The people of these villages are devoid of basic facilities. High incidence of illness in the area is a cause of concern.

Another unfortunate predicament for these people is the constant harassment by the security forces on the plea of anti-terrorist operations.

The officers and employees of Nuclear Corporation are living at a safe distance, 20 kilometres away from the Kaiga Plant in a colony near Mallapur village. Lakhs of rupees are being spent on their daily transport and basic infrastructure. However, the villagers within a 5 kilometres radius have been made sacrificial lambs and are made to live in an area with active radiation. It needs to be pointed out that on December 23-24, 2009, the drinking water in the area got polluted with Tracium Heavy Water.

People living in these villages have lost the peace of mind, tranquility and hope for future because of the attitude of the NPC administration towards these issues. They are assuring us with promises to conduct a health survey. Instead of acceding to the demand of providing rehabilitation and alternate land as promised while the project was coming up, the NPC is talking of spending crores of rupees for the health check up. People living in the area are being denied the right to life itself.

We have taken up the matter with the NPC and have also submitted memorandums detailing the facts. It is the failure to get an appropriate response that has forced us to go in for an indefinite dharna. It may be recalled that during 1996 also the villagers launched a struggle and the authorities had promised to take up rehabilitation programmes.

On December 10, 2011, Halyal-Joida constituency MLA Sunil Hegde visited the site of dharna. He raised the matter in the Karnataka assembly on December 12, 2011. On December 17, 2011 the chief secretary, government of Karnataka held a talk with the leaders of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha and Kaiga Struggle Committee. Artists and leaders of different political parties and about fifty organisations have declared their support to the agitation.

The district administration has held several rounds of talks with the NPC administration. Ranjan Chattarjee and Ganapati Bhat, consultants of National Planning Committee on environment have also visited Kaiga area on January 2, 2012. But all these discussions have been limited to providing a special health and infrastructure package. They are ignoring our basic demand of alternate land and rehabilitation of 500 families.

Hence, we request you to intervene and bring justice to above said villagers by implementing the following demands.

1. Acquire lands from villages – Hartuga, Balemane, Kuchegar,
Belse, Harur, Sulageri etc.
2. Agricultural land must be compensated with agricultural land.
3. All affected people should be given proper monetary
compensation and rehabilitation.
4. Government job to at least one person per family.
5. Government should form a Joint Rehabilitation Committee and fix a
meeting immediately with the villagers. The earlier decisions taken by the
Rehabilitation Committee should be implemented.