Led by Ramon Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey and others prominent activists of the state, locals of as many as 38 villages restricted Mandla district administration to organise a public hearing on controversial Chutka nuclear power project. According to activists, more than 4,000 villagers reached the hearing site at Chutka and stalled the process before it could take place. "The public hearing meeting has been cancelled today," said a government spokesperson but refused to give details on next schedule. According to the protesters, agitation against the 1,400 MW Chutka nuclear power project (450 km east from Bhopal) was boiling up. They are likely to intensify agitation against land acquisition process launched by state government. "Locals now understand that this project poses several health risks and is not in their favour. As propagated by state authorities and champions, nuclear power is no more a cheaper option. If it is why United States has not come up with any new nuclear power project since 1979. After Fukushima disaster in 2011, most of the countries are now exploring possibilities in renewable energy sources.
Why India is looking at nuclear option? Is it due to those private players of the US that have entered some suspicious deals with India? This project should not come up at any cost," Pandey told Business Standard over telephone. The NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited) plans to commission the Chutka project in Chutka which falls under highly seismic zone. Local administration launched a process to acquire land by issuance of land acquisition notices to local people. Reportedly, the administration has completed documentation formalities by ignoring the fact that the site and affected people are tribal and come under scheduled area, the protestors calimed. Local people were protesting against the public hearing on Friday as they had been slapped a NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) report which is beyond their analyzing abilities. The hearing was called to invite claims, objections and suggestions on the project. "We will now intensify our protest under Chutka Parmanu Pradushan Sangharsh Samiti and would now stall land acquisition process. When they have not obtained environment clearances how can they acquire land?" said Sunil, another activist of Madhya Pradesh Jan Sangharsh Morcha.