Press Release: FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER: LESSONS FOR INDIA

April 9, 2012 by · Comments Off on Press Release: FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER: LESSONS FOR INDIA
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On March 11, exactly one year ago, a huge nuclear disaster in human history occurred at Fukushima , such that three nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daichii plant experienced a nuclear core meltdown. The associated series of hydrogen explosions in the plant released more than twenty times the radioactive radiation of the Hiroshima bomb, causing contamination of air, water, soil, all living and non-living matter. The real cost to human health and life are expected to show up in a few years.

While several western countries, including Japan, have responded to public pressure and plan to halt or phase out their nuclear programs, the Indian government’s response has been to insist that the technology is ‘fully safe’ and to continue with its massive nuclear expansion.

In observing the Fukushima anniversary, PUCL and partners express solidarity with the victims of the nuclear disaster and hope to reach out to fellow citizens to address critically the necessity of India’s nuclear program. The speakers invited to seminar spoke on a variety of issues related to resolving people’s growing nuclear trust-deficit with India’s projected growing need in the energy and power sectors.

Nagesh Hedge emphasized the hazardous nature of the entire nuclear cycle from uranium mining, processing and disposal of the nuclear waste. His arguments hit home when he spoke of the issues of uranium mining coming up at Gogi in Yadgir, on the Bhima river basin; the limited ore supply, if extracted, will destroy the environment, water systems, and cause extensive human damage, while providing for about 7 months of fuel for India’s projected future nuclear program. He spoke also of the large scale and growing public opposition to this project, and also to the proposed building units 5 and 6 at Kaiga.

Shankar Sharma, a power policy analyst, spoke on the need for conservation efforts, limiting transmission losses and the enormous potential of renewable energy initiatives. In states like Tamil Nadu, conversion from incandescent to CFL bulbs can save about 500 MW – which would be the State’s expected share from the Koodankulam nuclear plant, after accounting for losses! Transmission losses in our country are 24% compared to about 5% in developed nations. India’s current nuclear capability is only 2.4% of our total power budget – thus a saving in transmission losses is tantamount to producing, immediately, ten times more power than what we get from our nuclear sector – without any risk.

YB Ramakrishna, noted that renewables and alternatives were not only available, but can provide for India’s burgeoning energy needs using a variety of sources including, solar, bio-fuels, hydro etc. He also gave inspiring examples of successful implementation of distributed renewable energy schemes, including biomass.

VT Padmanabhan spoke of several grave and technical concerns associated with the Koodankulam Nuclear plant, such as the seismic instability of the region, and the dependence of KNPP’s fresh water supply for cooling from a desalination plant. None of these safety concerns were satisfactorily addressed by the expert panel appointed by the central govt.

Prof. Atul Chokshi, IISc, presented calculations showing that for India to meet its long-term projected nuclear aspirations would require a nuclear reactor every eleven kilometers along nation’s shoreline. Equivalent energy was possible from a distributed roof-top solar panel system over all households providing distributed, equitable power for our population – without transmission losses or risks!

The Fukushima anniversary provided a poignant reminder of the potential dangers of catastrophic nuclear accidents. The seminar demonstrated several potential strategies to provide for India’s energy needs, so that there are several viable alternatives to nuclear power

[Press Statement] Visit by PUCL-Bangalore to POSCO Affected Areas in Odisha 22-24 July, 2011

July 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A five member team of PUCL Bangalore visited the POSCO project villages of Govindpur, Dhinkia and Patana in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha between July 22-24, 2011on a solidarity visit with people’s struggle against the POSCO project and to probe large-scale forced acquisition of lands by the State for the proposed POSCO steel plant in the region. The team found a truly strong and democratic people’s movement convinced of their legitimate rights and firmly resolved not to give up their lands or livelihoods for the benefit of either a foreign company or an arguably larger common good for the people of the State. The movement is continuing to gain momentum as villagers from different hamlets take turns to safeguard their lands from attempts to destroy their betel plantations. Most people we spoke to were determined not to give up their lands, even at the cost of their lives.

Participation of people’s organizations from all over the country is adding strength to the local resolve even as the movement is facing increasing threats from the state which is moving into the area by a massive clearance of surrounding forest lands. The large majority of these villages are not ready to leave the forest lands on which they have been cultivating betel vines and cashew for centuries because it will destroy their livelihoods and consequently their very existence.

On July 24th we found five vans and four jeeps filled with armed police stationed in Gadakujang near Mahaveer Chowk purportedly for maintaining the law and order situation in the area. The DySP, Jagatsinghpur and Tahsildar Kailash Chandra of Tirutwar refused to divulge any further information. We observed large scale tree clearance under strong and armed paramilitary supervision. In later conversations with the DC and the SP, we gathered that the police presence was to facilitate the clearance of forest land by IDCO. We were also informed by the DC that it was not necessary for the district administration to either consult or obtain authorization from the village panchayats since they were acting under the mandate given to the police by the constitution. The SP also maintained that the police would continue assisting the tree clearance operation till all the POSCO lands were cleared. In other words, this clearing operation was being conducted in complete disregard of the wishes of the local communities.

The team also visited the transit camp set up by POSCO where the so-called pro-POSCO families from Dhinkia and Patana are housed. They all seemed to suggest that POSCO will bring complete ruin to these villages in spite of their being labeled as ‘Pro-POSCO’. We spoke to Praful Mohanti, the spokesperson for the community in the transit camp. We found the displaced people are living under inhuman conditions. They have suffered for the last four years in overcrowded, unhygienic living conditions with only Rs20 per person per day for sustaining life. They said that their children are unable to attend school and no medical facilities are available to them. Most people there were unemployed and showed a keen interest in returning to their homes and previous lifestyles. We feel that people in this transit camp are victims of the same State-Corporate nexus that is breaking up of communities in this area, and leading to loss of homes, lands, and livelihoods.

PUCL strongly condemns the State of Odisha for its policies that serve the financial interests of corporations. Such policies deliberately harm people’s interests and their fundamental right to pursue lives of liberty and dignity. PUCL condemns the use of armed police for promoting corporate interests in complete disregard of the democratically voiced wishes and interests and legitimate rights of the people of the area. We demand an immediate withdrawal of all armed personnel and a halt to all human rights violations in the area. We call for an immediate halt to the cutting down of thousands of trees which are vital to the local ecology and the economic independence of the people of this region. PUCL also demands that the Odisha government to listen to the democratic voices of the villagers and hence uphold the democratic values of this nation.

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Press Release – PUCL Dakshin Kannada

April 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A six-member PUCL delegation led by its state president P.B.D’Sa, met the Inspector General of Police (WR) Alok Mohan and the Mangalore Commissioner of Police Seemanth Kumar Singh on April 2, 2011 and held discussions on a number of important topics such as human rights, communalism etc. Copies of several PUCL reports and publications were presented to both the officers. They are:

  • Report of the People’s Tribunal Enquiry by Justice (Retd.) M.F.Saldanha
  • State Terrorism: Police Atrocities in the Karavali Area
  • Horrifying Human Tragedy Called Mangalore SEZ
  • State Terrorism: Tyranny – An Editor in Chains
  • PUCL Fact-finding Reports, NHRC and SHRC Cases – Volume 1

Both officers have thanked PUCL for the reports and assured that the same would be studied and would be made use of during the course of their ‘crime meetings’ to brief the other officers. They also informed the delegation that regular training on the subject of human rights is being imparted to all the policemen.

One of the subjects that was brought up during the discussions with the Commissioner was about the withdrawal of cases filed against innocent Christians subsequent to the church attacks of 14th September 2008. The   Commissioner has confirmed that his office has received the necessary instructions from the state government and they have started the relevant processes and a report will be submitted to the court within a few days for withdrawal of all the cases. It may be recalled that Justice (Retd.) Saldanha had recently submitted to the Governor of Karnataka the report of the one-man People’s Tribunal Enquiry on the church attacks formed at the instance of PUCL and Transparency International (Karnataka Chapter). At the time the Governor had given an assurance that all the 338 cases against the Christians would be withdrawn very shortly.

The delegation pointed out that in the Ullal area harassment of rights activists, especially those from the minority Muslim community, is on the rise. Attention of both the officers was drawn to the fact that attempts are being made by a certain Inspector to file false cases against rights and social activists by branding them as terrorists having connections with the likes of notorious underworld elements such as Madur Yusuf. The Commissioner promised that he will look into these charges.

The Commissioner said he has issued strict instructions regarding custodial deaths during their recently held seminar on the subject. He has instructed all his subordinates that in case of any custodial death a criminal case under IPC 302 must be booked against the SHO.

He also spoke at length on the modernization of the force such as on-line filing of complaints, PCR vehicles, e-booking of traffic violations etc., and on the welfare measures that have been set in motion. For example the proposal to install portable cabins at several places in the city would serve the dual purpose of a rest room and toilet. PUCL welcomed all this and observed that if properly used it will go a long way towards bringing in professionalism and instilling some measure of dignity and self-respect.

For PUCL D.K.,

P.B.D’Sa

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