November 9, 2011

Another Koodankulam Plays Out in Kaiga
(By M Raghuram, DNA, November 6, 2011)

Even as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is tottering to convince people living around the Kaiga Generating Station (KGS) about the safety issues at Kaiga, 30km from here, people in 20-odd villages around KGS are preparing to launch one of the largest anti-nuclear campaigns, in not just Karwar, but also in Yellapura, Joida, Honnavar, Ankola and Kumta. This is akin to how protest against Koodankulam nuclear plant gained momentum.

In a meeting held in Vajralli, Yellapur taluk, on Friday, representatives of more than 20 villages around KGS converged and voiced their support to the campaign. "We have already secured the support of 41 gram panchayats in Uttara Kannada, mainly in Karwar, Honnavar and Yellapura taluks, out of which 20 have attended the meeting and signed a declaration under the banner of 'Jagruta Janate Horata Samithi' (Action Committee of Awakened Citizens)". The National Health Survey around nuclear power generating stations has already indicated that people living in a 100-km radius are suffering a host of diseases, including cancer, owing to radiation, but KGS authorities are not ready to extend even basic medical facilities to these people, which is a total lack of concern towards the people who live around the KGS,” convenor of the committee, BG Hegade Gerala told DNA.

Nuclear power is cancerous: Pointing at a section of the people in the meeting, Hegade said, "All these people have come from Vajralli and neighbouring villages and each one of them have a cancer patient in their family, if not, they have children born with deformities. This region was full of greenery and sparkling water and perfect weather for healthy living, there is no other pollution but nuclear radiation, so the cause for such cancers and deformities can only be nuclear radiation." Uday Naik, vice-president of the Uttara Kannada Zilla Panchayat, has welcomed the fact that the people are dissenting. "We do not know if it was even safe to have two more units in Kaiga, after what happened in Japan."

At the meeting at Vajralli on Friday, it was decided to stall all permits and clearances that the Kaiga officials seek for the new units. "The village chiefs say that the panchayat raj institutions have the primary right to give permission to any construction. When we called the Kaiga officials to the meeting and give us the details and information about the two proposed units, they did not even care to attend the meeting," said Shyamnath Naik, a member of the Kadra Grama Panchayat.

This is the second cluster of villages that has raised a voice of dissent against the expansion. The previous meeting held in October at Mallapura had seen participation from 34 villages. "We will not give the KGS permits to take up any more construction in their premises and they should know that without the permission of the panchayats, they cannot take up any construction work even if it was for a high-profile project,” said the committee chief RT Bhat. Only last week, the villagers of Mallapura had raised the flag of dissent in a more vehement manner and had blocked the way of minister for fisheries and Karwar MLA, Anand Asnotikar, when he had come to inaugurate the Mallapuram Primary Health Centre. The PHC has not been inaugurated yet.

Kaiga officials, though worried about the developments, are trying to placate the villagers by pointing at the survey made by the National Disaster Management Authority.

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