24 December 2010

Haripur Nuclear Plant: Lies, Lies And More Lies

[ A Press Release by the Parmanu Chulli Birodhi O Bheete Mati Jeeban Jeebika Bachao Committee
(Committee Against Nuclear Plant and To Save Homes, Life and Livelihood) ]
About 100 villagers from Haripur and surrounding villages in Purba Medinipur in West Bengal demonstrated in front of the Kolkata office of the Consul General of the Russian Federation on December 22. Their demand - that Russia stop its collaboration with the Indian government for the nuclear power project at Haripur. Arthur Berbst, attaché from the Russian Consulate, met a delegation of five people, representing the Parmanu Chulli Birodhi O Bheete Mati Jeeban Jeebika Bachao Committee (Committee Against Nuclear Plant and To Save Homes, Life and Livelihood).  Shyamali Giri from the Committee insisted that they were not willing to give their land at any cost and would rather die than give their land. Sushanta Bhuiyan of Haripur village stated that no amount of money could compensate for the loss of their homes and livelihood. Banneswar Manna from the same village asked for the Russians to desist from entering Haripur as they would meet stiff resistance.

The villagers also explained to the attaché the economic situation in Haripur, which is not the wasteland it was being portrayed by the Government, but is a densely populated area, with vibrant agricultural and fishing activities. They also told Berbst that not a single Government official had been allowed to enter the area since November 2006, so no inspection or survey had taken place to examine if the site was suitable for a nuclear plant. Nor had they ever been consulted on the issue.

While Berbst assured the delegation that their memorandum would be translated and handed over to the Russian President (who is in Delhi at present) within 10 hours, he also expressed his country’s helplessness as far as choice of the location was concerned.  According to him, the Russian Federation is providing only 30-35 engineers for the nuclear plant and is only giving technical assistance so it cannot put pressure about the site. He denied newspaper reports that  Russia was also providing finance.

While this protest meeting was going on, according to press reports, Sergey Kiriyenko, CEO of the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, was telling Russian journalists about the corporation’s plans to expand cooperation with India in the nuclear energy sector. He confirmed that the site in West Bengal (Haripur) was definitely the second site chosen for Russian collaboration. According to him, “Today we have reached agreement on basic credit terms. This fundamental pre-requisite is being negotiated by the respective finance ministries of the two countries. They have agreed that the credit will be extended on the same terms as applied to the first and second power units (in Kudakalan).”

The people of Haripur thus met with another set of lies today. Earlier they have been told by local leaders that Haripur was no longer under consideration by the Government of India and that their MP and Minister Sisir Adhikari has received a letter to this effect from the Prime Minister. This has also been proved an untruth today.

Related Post: Protest Pictures 

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