Nuclear energy is bad for development and India should not adopt it - this was the key outcome of a people's hearing on nuclear energy projects in India held on August 22-23 where concerns of the local communities regarding safety, viability and impacts of these projects on the lives and livelihoods of the surrounding population and their environment were discussed.
Jury members included social activist Aruna Roy, member of the National Advisory Committee, former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas, and KS Subrahmaniam, who heard testimonies of people part of the grassroots movements at sites where nuclear plants were coming up like in Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashta), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh), Gorakhpur (Haryana), Banswada (Rajasthan), and Rawatbhata (Rajasthan), where strong agitations against upcoming and existing nuclear facilities are underway. Former Army Chief General VK Singh was in the audience listening to the people's testimonies opposing nuclear energy.
A statement from the anti-nuclear group said, "The obsession with GDP and growth has been behind the plans to expand the Eco-destructive energy projects - be it nuclear, huge coal-based plants or large dams. An alternative model of development has to be evolved to deal with the present crisis, rather than going for dangerous illusions like pursuing nuclear power. People are resisting these projects which stand to threaten their lives and livelihoods."
According to agency reports, Ms Roy spoke about her visit to Kudankulam and about false information about the movement against the nuclear plant that the administration and the police were spreading. She termed the allegation of foreign funding to the protesters as "baseless". She also called on people living in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Kerala to join in and offer support to the Kudankulam residents in their struggle against the plant as any disaster would equally affect their coasts too.
After her visit to Kudankulam nuclear project site, National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy said in a statement that the place for dissent was shrinking in the country. "Place for dissent is shrinking in our country which is evident here (in Kudankulam) where non-violent protests being seen as intolerable by the Indian government."
Ms Roy said she was very distressed about the action being taken on the non-violent protests against the establishment of a nuclear plant in Kudankulam.
"There are several questions which have been raised about the safety and viability of these reactors as well as the environmental damage they are liable to cause. These questions cannot be ignored after the Fukushima disaster especially as Kudankulam is on the coast, parts of which have been effected by the tsunami in the past," Ms Roy said.
"All of them expressed their anguish and dismay at the government's insistence on going ahead with the plant, turning a deaf ear to their legitimate concerns of safety and survival," she said.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited has said that the Kudankulam nuclear plant was equipped with advanced safety features. It said a study by seven reputed universities have found that there is no adverse impact of nuclear power plants on marine ecology.
(With inputs from PTI)