Hyderabad, March 16 (IANS) Fearing a Japan-like threat, a number of people in Andhra Pradesh are up against a proposed nuclear power plant in Srikakulam district, bordering Orissa.
Gram panchayats or village-level local bodies in as many as 35 villages Wednesday passed resolutions opposing the establishment of the plant at Kovvada of Ranasthalam mandal.
In a district which is already witnessing strong resistance from local communities to two controversial thermal power projects, the protest against the nuclear plant is likely to intensify in the coming days.
With the nuclear disaster in quake and tsunami-hit Japan unfolding before the world, the people in Kovvada and surrounding villages were not ready to accept one in their neighbourhood.
Political parties, environmental activists and people’s organisations have already held protest demonstrations in the region during the last couple of days. They now plan to involve the local population, including farmers and fishermen, in their movement and intensify it in the coming days.
Those who were opposing the project even before the tragedy in Japan are confident that it will now become a mass movement and force the authorities to drop their plans.
As part of the campaign, they plan to take out a rally and submit memoranda to the local authorities Friday.
Many locals fear the region could witness a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude if a tsunami hits the plant, which is proposed to be set up close to the sea coast.
“We shiver even to imagine the consequences here, especially after learning how a developed country like Japan has turned helpless in tackling the nuclear disaster,” said a resident of Kovvada.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) plans to set up a 10,000 MW power plant at an estimated cost of Rs.1 lakh crore. The proposed plant will have six nuclear reactors.
The government has already identified 1,200 acres of land out of 1,916 acres required for the project. The remaining land is to be acquired from local communities.
NPCIL has ruled out the possibility of a Japan-like scenario at Kovvada as the region does not fall in a seismically active zone.
However, the government’s assurance to put in place additional environmental safeguards to ensure the safety of the proposed nuclear reactors has failed to satisfy those opposing the plant.
Officials who visited the villages several times had assured the local population that they had nothing to fear and even promised jobs to them at the plant.
Ater watching on television the earthquake-triggered by blasts in the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, the people fear a similar catastrophe can befall on them if they remain silent.
The district is already witnessing massive public resistance to two thermal power projects which are likely to harm the ecology and affect the livelihood of local communities.
Two people were killed and scores were injured in police firing on protestors at Kakarapally on Feb 28. Two people were killed in a similar incident at Sompeta in July last year.