Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
It is sad that the rest of India is yet to wake up and express solidarity with the people of Konkan, particularly of Ratnagiri in Maharastra who have already given the first martyr to the motherland in the matter of her protection from the engulfing era of nuclear danger that Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh has clamped on the country by hoodwinking the Parliament.
Tabrez Sayekar, a 30 year old inhabitant of Nate village on the sea coast has become the first martyr in the instant fight to save the motherland from nuke mischief. He has sacrificed his life on Monday as Police shot at the people protesting against the construction of the nuclear power plant.
Ratnagiri, though a port point, belongs to an agrarian eco-system between the Arabian Sea and Sahyadri producing excellent cashew nuts, mangoes and rice, besides being the source of livelihood to thousands of fishermen. It has given India monumental leaders of freedom movement and social reformers like Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bharat Ratna Dhondo Keshav Karve.
This remarkable place is now threatened with nuke danger, if, despite meticulous precaution, something somewhat goes wrong someday, as, in words of the government, Bhopal had gone.
Central Government’s own organization, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has started constructing the Jaitapur Nuclesr Power Project, touted to be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world for which agreement was signed between the French nuclear engineering firm Areva and NPCIL on 6 December 2010 in presence of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, is causing terrifying panic in the public and not without reason. They portend disaster on the basis of the recent Fukushima experience. Like Fukushima, the Konkan Zone is also vulnerable to earthquake. In the five seismic zones identified by Government of India, it is put in the second most vulnerable zone liable to seismic intensity VIII in the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale identified as “High Damage Risk Zone”. If at any unfortunate moment earthquake hits the zone, who can say, how shall the nuclear power plant behave? This question haunts the inhabitants of Konkan.
The Government of Man Mohan Singh should have cleared all fears from the people in this regard before signing the agreement with the French firm. It has not. Instead, it has been, sans any convincing details, insisting that the plant will not cause any hazard. The government’s version is rejected by different studies. When the Bombay Natural History Society has shown that the project will cause severe damage to the eco-system, the study conducted by Jamshedji Tata Center for Disaster Management of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) alleges that the Government of India is not transparent in this matter. According to this study, the project’s negative impact on the social and environmental position of Konkan region will be massive and menacing. The most perturbing facet of the fact is that, the central government is also manipulating notification of the area from high severity earthquake zone (high damage risk zone) to moderate seismic severity zone, the study has pointed out.
A Government manipulating notification of the area from high damage risk zone to moderate seismic severity zone to force the nuke plant on the people of Konkan is an official offense perpetrated on the people of India. The modus operandi needs be studied and the design needs be defeated. The rest of India must stand in solidarity with the inhabitants of Konkan in their fight against the era of nuclear danger ushered into the country under foreign pressure.