21 December 2010

Letter To Medvedev: Expect Stiff Resistance To Haripur Nuclear Plant

Parmanu Chulli Birodhi O Bheete Mati Jeeban Jeebika Bachao Committee
(Committee Against Nuclear Plant and To Save Homes, Life and Livelihood)
Village Haripur, PS Contai, Purba Midnapore

Dmitry Medvedev,
President of The Russian Federation,
Through Consul General of Russian Federation in Kolkata
22A, Raja Santosh Road,
Date: December 22, 2010

Dear Sir,

We, the people of Haripur-Joonput and surrounding villages, strongly protest the choice of our villages as the site of a nuclear power plant. We have been protesting against this unilateral and undemocratic decision of our Government since November 16th, 2006, when our area was visited by a team of 12 techno-bureaucrats to inspect Haripur as a possible site for a nuclear power plant. The area has been continuously blockaded since then and there has been no site inspection or any other survey of our villages because we have resisted all such actions.

Despite   our continuous resistance to the choice of Haripur–Joonput as the site for a nuclear power plant, we were amazed to hear that on 7 December, 2009, the 68th anniversary of Pearl Harbour attack, ‘a path-breaking agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy’ was signed in Moscow between India and Russia in presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and yourself, followed by declarations from responsible officials that ‘Russia will set up a nuclear park in Haripur, West Bengal, which will generate 6000 to 10000 MW electricity.’

We object to this unilateral and undemocratic decision, when without consulting us your Government and ours have decided to evict us from our homes and our livelihoods.  Please note the following facts about the Haripur-Junput area:

It is a densely populated area, rich in natural resources. The Indian siting code defines the exclusion area for a nuclear plant as the immediate area within a radius of 1.5 km around the proposed site, which is to be in the direct control of the station. This zone has 19 villages with a population of 9,878, who will be evicted from both homes and livelihood by the project. The siting code also defines a 5-km sterilised zone around the site, which has 125 villages and 74,995 (2001 census), all of whom will be allowed only  limited expansion in livelihood and population. Part of the Contai sub divisional town falls within the 5-km sterilized zone. In the 16-km radius of the plant, where population is at high risk of nuclear exposure in case of any accident, lives a population of 512,278, including the entire Contai town and many densely populated villages. All the figures of population given here are from the 2001 Census and would have increased 15-20% by now.

In January 2010, a survey conducted by the youth committee of the PBKMS of 1,059 families in 26 villages all within 2 km of Haripur of the spot that has been marked by surveyors presumably for the nuclear plant shows the dependence of the families on the natural resources of the area. 86% of the families have given their main occupation as being agriculture or fishing. Only 5% families depend on external factors for their main income i.e. they are Government servants or migrants. The area is rich in natural resources and sources of livelihood and the level of destitution in the area is very low.

The area earmarked for the plant is a producer and exporter of agricultural products like paddy, vegetables, betel nut, betel leaves, coconuts and spices. A huge fishing industry exists there with dry fish farms or khotis providing the livelihood of thousands of permanent and leased workers, engaged in packing, storing and transporting of dry fish alongside the coastal belts of Junput and Haripur. At least 15,000-20,000 people will be affected directly in the fishing industry and another 15,000-20,000 self-dependent villagers engaged in agricultural activities are destined to be evicted, according to a conservative estimate. Apart from sea-based fishing activities and farming, a number of salt factories have been supplying natural sun-dried salt to various parts of India as well as many Asian and European countries. About 15% of the salt supplies of West Bengal come from Kanthi. The nuclear plant with its discharge of hot water into the sea is also likely to affect fish yields along a large part of the coast line, impacting millions of lives and livelihoods outside the immediate area.        
Despite systems like the Gram Sansad (village council meetings to be held mandatorily twice a year) existing by which people are to be consulted on development issues by the Government, consultation with people has not taken place so far.Nor have the people allowed any survey or site inspection to take place. The claim of the Government that Haripur is a suitable place for a nuclear plant is therefore totally false. The survey mentioned earlier showed that only 6 families (0.5%) out of the 1059 surveyed had no objections to the plant.      

We, the people of Haripur-Junpoot, have decided that we will not give our land for this nuclear plant. Your Government and ours can therefore expect stiff resistance from us if such a plan is taken up. Many of us have been part of the Nandigram and Singur struggles where we have stopped forcible acquisition of land.  We will definitely now allow our land to go for this lopsided plan.
We would therefore appeal to your Government to support our struggle and to stop any plans for a nuclear plant at Haripur.

Yours sincerely

Cc For your information and action
1.       Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
2.       Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Chief Minister of West Bengal 

Related Posts: PBKMS Takes Lead In Organising Against Haripur Nuclear Plan
                    Protest Pictures

No comments:

Post a Comment