Fear has gripped Chutka and nearby areas of the tribal-dominated Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima plant in Japan, as Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has decided to set up an atomic power station here to generate 1,400 Mw power.
Members of Chutka Parmanu Sangharsh Samiti told Business Standard, NPCIL and the state government officials had conducted survey furtively without taking villagers and gram sabhas (village committees) into confidence that all rights on deciding developmental activities should be reserved in accordance with Panchayati Raj Act.
“After the sanction of this project in October 2009 they (NPCIL officials) approached three villages of the area and were chased away by villagers in December 2009. Later villagers urged the district collector to halt the project. As many as 38 tribal villages will be affected if the project takes shape. We all are already displaced when Bargi dam on Narmada river was conceived. We will not allow this project to come up,” said Navratan Dubey, an activist of the Samiti.
Five tribal villages namely Chutka, Tatighat, Kunda, Bhaliwara and Patha village are in core areas of survey, if the members of the Samiti are believed. “District collector and local Parliamentarian Basori Singh Markam assured us that this project would come only if gram sabhas give nod. In contrast both changed their stand and furtively allowed survey in other areas. We have not been contacted since then, but the government cannot force a nuclear power project on an ignorant tribal people.
On the other hand Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh, another organisation that works for Bargi dam oustees had backed the villagers to spike governments plan to set up the plant in most bio-diverse area of the district, it not only has a dense forest cover but Kanha National Park to boast. Also it has yet not been explored for its secrets of Palaeozoic era.
“This project not only poses radiation risk but also a threat to the rich tribal culture, bio-diversity, and most importantly that treasured possession of stone era when human civilisation began on earth. Villagers have strongly protested the project since inception as they have not been informed about its radiation risk. Mandla district had also suffered due an earthquake of 8 severity on Richter in 1997. Narmada valley in this area has records of earthquake of similar intensity, how Central and state governments can ignore facts,” Rajkumar Sinha, an activist of the Sangh told Business Standard, “It is also a question of those 2000 fishermen’s livelihood who survive on nearby Bargi reservoir. Further why they NPCIL officials have planned to construct residential complex of project officials seven kms away from site, if it poses no risk.”
The NPCIL officials were not available for comment but the commissioner of Jabalpur division PK Parashar, confirmed, “A survey has been completed and we have been informed that NPCIL will demand 600 hectares of land. We are waiting for their formal request. Villagers have been taken into confidence.”
The NPCIL is learnt to have urged the state to acquire a land area of 600 hectares. Madhya Pradesh Power Generating Company Limited (MPPGCL) the nodal agency to facilitate the execution of the project which will have two units of 660 Mw each.