People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVII

No. 44

November 03, 2013

 

JAITAPUR NUCLEAR PROJECT

 

Japanese PM Urged to Shun Nuclear Ties

 

On October 21, 2013, the Jaitapur Anuveej Prakalpvirodhi Abhiyan, an organisation fighting against the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra, made the following representation to the prime minister and the members of the National Diet of Japan. The representation was made through the consul general of the Japanese Consulate at Mumbai in India and on behalf of the local farmers, fishermen, landless and other toilers opposed to proposed Jaitapur nuclear power project and the solidarity organisations of India.

 

ON behalf of the people of Konkan, the citizens of the state of Maharashtra and the Indian people, we express our profound sense of grief at the events of March 11, 2011 the earthquake, tsunami and the ensuing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. We express our solidarity with the Japanese people who are struggling to cope with this unprecedented crisis, which has no end in sight. 

 

The Fukushima nuclear disaster, as recorded by the independent investigation commission in their report submitted to the members of the National Diet of Japan, is not only the outcome of natural calamity. It is also a man-made disaster and a result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO and the lack of governance by said parties.

 

Two and a half years later this disaster has reached epic proportions. It is slated to be a permanent Level 3 nuclear disaster. The radiation release from nuclear fuel, which has breached containment, is continuing uncontrollably and indefinitely into ground water and surrounding ocean. The hazard is from both the reactors as well as the spent fuel accumulations. 300,000 tonnes of radioactive water has accumulated in tanks at the site, with hundreds of tonnes being added daily. On October 9, seven tonnes of this highly radioactive water leaked into the open ground exposing several workers to high radiation dose. The previous week 430 litres of highly radioactive water spilled out of storage tank and flowed into the sea. In August 2013, a Level 3 nuclear accident occurred, with 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water leaking from a tank.

 

The huge accumulation of radioactive materials in the form of spent fuel in the spent fuel storage pool of stricken and structurally unstable Unit 4 pose a risk and hazard not only to Fukushima and its surroundings, but to the whole of Japan, and indeed the whole world.

 

The Japanese people understand the severity of the crisis and have overwhelmingly demanded that all nuclear power plants be closed. We welcomed the prudent and courageous decision of the Japanese government to close down all nuclear power plants, despite the dependence of your nation on nuclear power for 30 percent of its electricity. The Japanese government of your predecessor arrived at the progressive policy decision, like the German Bundestag, of phasing out hazardous nuclear power as demanded by the people of Japan. We hope you will continue with that policy.

 

We sympathise with the pain of tens of thousands of nuclear refugees, farmers, fishermen and others, from the surrounding areas who have been deprived of their livelihoods and are uncertain about the possibility of returning to their homes. Our sympathies are with all these Japanese brothers and sisters and children. We believe that Fukushima disaster is no longer a national issue of Japan but of the entire world. We welcome the decision to shut down the only reactor that was operational for stringent safety checks on September 16, 2013, without any time frame to restart.

 

In the 20th century, Japan underwent the horror of first ever atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed tens of thousands and reduced these two cities to ashes, with long term effects of hazardous radiations through the generations. In the 21st century, the Japanese people are facing the Fukushima disaster saga unfolding endlessly and relentlessly.

 

The lesson of Fukushima is that this is not the time to expand nuclear power anywhere in the world. We view with deep concern the moves by the governments of India and Japan to enhance civilian nuclear cooperation. The business interest of Japanese corporations like Mitsubishi, which makes nuclear reactor components, cannot take precedence over the lives, and livelihoods of the common citizens of our countries.

 

Against the wishes of the Indian people, despite Fukushima, our government has decided to take a quantum jump in nuclear power generation. Jaitapur nuclear power project --- a gigantic project with six reactors totalling 10,000 MW --- is proposed at village Madban, situated in the district Ratnagiri, state of Maharashtra, on the western coast of India. This region is part of the Western Ghats mountain range which is globally unique and rich and sensitive in biodiversity. The farmers, fishermen, landless and other toilers in and around the region are relentlessly opposing this hazardous, expensive nuclear power project as it will destroy this natural wealth and their sources of livelihood.

 

We express our deep concern for the impact of Fukushima on the livelihood of the fishing community in Japan, the banning of fish imports from Japan by South Korea and China. As in Japan, the Indian coast has many million families whose livelihood depends on fishing and fish exports. The entire fishing community of India is strongly against the setting up of nuclear reactors along the Indian coast, and expresses solidarity with their brothers and sisters of Japan, in their battle to save their livelihood against the tide of growing radioactive contamination of the ocean by the ongoing Fukushima disaster.

 

The Japanese government under your honourable leadership is now engaged in negotiations with the government of India to ink bilateral agreements on nuclear trade. These agreements may protect interests and profits of Japanese nuclear industry in the situation when the future of business for them in your own country looks bleak. But it would be unethical to proceed in this manner. We are sure that after Fukushima, the Japanese people would not approve of increased nuclear build anywhere in the world.

 

We would like to draw your kind attention to the fact that if your government gets into bilateral nuclear trade agreements with the government of India, it would become party to violation of human rights of Indian citizens who are opposed to nuclear power.

 

We wish to convey to you emphatically that the people of India strongly oppose any nuclear trade between Japan and India. On the other hand we welcome the technological cooperation and in other areas like transport, telecommunications, electronics, optics etc. Honda, Toyota, Sony, Docomo, Canon and Nikon are respected brand names in India. We are sure that your government would not wish to jeopardise the goodwill and the growing cooperation and business in these areas, by pursuing an unsustainable nuclear trade against the wishes of the Indian people, which is doomed to failure in the face of growing opposition of the people.

 

Hence, the honourable prime minister of Japan, we, the Indian people, request you to shun such agreements on nuclear trade with the government of India.

 

If our request goes unheeded, then please be cautioned that we would be forced to step up national and international pressure against this policy of your government and build public opinion in both our countries as well as all over the world against the double standards it represents.

 

The representation was signed by Dr Vivek Monteiro, Adwait Pednekar, Prakash Reddy, Arun Velaskar and Madhu Mohite on behalf of the Konkan Bachao Samiti and by Shyam Sunder Narvekar on behalf of the Jan Hit Sewa Samiti.