Fisherfolk, Activists Oppose Jaitapur Nuclear Plant Proposed in Seismic Zone in Maharashtra

Reported by

Nupur SonarLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

August 26, 2021

Location of Conflict

Madban

Varliwada, Karel, Niveli and Mithgavane

Ratnagiri

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Nuclear Power Plant

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

15000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

968

ha

Starting Year

2005

State

Maharashtra

Sector

Power

Since 2005, Ratnagiri, a coastal district in Maharashtra, has become a hotbed of protests against what will be the world's largest nuclear power plant. Jaitapur, a village in the district's Rajapur tehsil, was among the six sites recommended by a site selection committee for setting up of the nuclear power plant in 1984. In 2005, the Government of India gave an "in principle" approval to two light water reactors (LWRs) of 1,000 megawatt each and in 2009 gave another "in principle" approval for setting up six LWRs of 1,650 megawatt each. Upon completion, the Jaitapur power plant will be the world's largest nuclear power generating station, with a net capacity of 9,900 megawatt. The construction of the plant requires land from five fishing villages in the vicinity Madban, Varliwada, Karel, Niveli and Mithgavane as well as a residential complex for its employees. Over the years, marine biologists, nuclear scientists and environmental activists, along with the projectaffected people, landowners, fisherfolk and farmers have opposed the project and protested against the lack of public consultation; procedural violations, such as nonreceipt of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report up to a month prior to the public hearing; land acquisition by invoking an emergency provision and under coercion; technocommercial viability of the project; threat of radiation leaks; lack of a plan for disposal of nuclear waste; environmental damage to orchards and the release of hot water from the facility that will adversely affect fish population and the livelihood of 15,000 fisherfolk in the area. According to analysis by experts, while the EIA of the project rules out any adverse impact on the flora, fauna and human inhabitants of the area and states that the proposed site is rocky and barren, parallel studies by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) show otherwise (see the report attached). In its preliminary report, "Diversity of Coastal Marine Ecosystems of Maharashtra", the BNHS says that the nuclear project will adversely affect the ecology of the area and lists 16 ecologically sensitive sites within a 10kilometre radius of the proposed plant. Meanwhile, experts, activists and the residents of Jaitapur have also opposed the project as Jaitapur falls under Seismic Zone III. The accepted norm as per the Vengurlekar Committee recommendations is that nuclear power plants should not be built in areas beyond Seismic Zones I or II. Between 1985 and 2005, there have been 91 instances of seismic activity at the proposed nuclear plant site, some measuring as high as 6.3 on the Richter scale. Civil society organisations, such as Konkan Bachao Samiti and Janhit Seva Samiti, have filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court challenging the process of granting environmental clearance to the project as per the EIA notification of 2006 and without an assessment of nuclear pollution, safety and technology of the project by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The petition was admitted by the Bombay high court in March 2018. In the same month, when French President Emmanuel Macron visited India, the leaders of the two countries reiterated their resolve to begin work on the plant by December that year. India and France had signed an agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy on September 30, 2008, for building the Jaitapur plant. But even a decade later, the project is still at the negotiation stage. One of the primary reasons for the delay is the fierce opposition to the plant by the local people. In the past years, Jaitapur has witnessed several violent protests. According to media reports, protests against the project first began when a notification for a joint land survey was issued on December 14, 2005. Section 144 was imposed and 55 people were arrested when a group of protesters went to the site to interrupt the survey. In January 2006, the Maharashtra government issued a gazette notification for land acquisition, which was done by invoking Section 17 of the 1894 Land Acquisition Act's provision for emergency acquisition that expedites the process to 15 days and by doing away with Section 5(A), which gives a landowner the right to raise objections. Violence broke out on January 22, 2010, when a meeting by the projectaffected families was held in Madban village in Ratnagiri. Government officials and police were prohibited from entering. Violence ensued after the police arrived in large numbers, and 72 people were reportedly arrested. In October that year, the National Power Corporation of India Limited signed a rehabilitation package for the projectaffected persons with the Maharashtra government, offering, INR 5 lakh per hectare or choice of employment to the affected families. A majority of the landowners refused to accept the compensation. Amjad Borkar, who strongly opposes the project, told Mongabay in 2019 that the nuclear project would prove disastrous for the region's marine life as processed water released in the sea will increase the sea temperature. In August 2018, the residents of Madban held a protest opposing the land acquisition for the project. One of the protesters was quoted in a news report as saying that the use of nuclear fuel, its impact on global warming and potential threat to fisherfolk are issues not being properly addressed by the government. Opposition to the project continues.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Opposition against environmental degradation, Refusal to give up land for the project, Complaint against procedural violations

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

112000

Type of investment:

Revised Investment

Year of Estimation

2017

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws, Environmental Laws, Other, Central/State Government Policy

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006

    Clause 7(III) [A public consultation shall be conducted to ascertain the concerns of the affected persons and others who have a stake in the environmental impacts of a project]

  2. Atomic Energy (Safe Disposal of Radioactive Wastes) Rules, 1987

    Section 4 [No person shall be allowed to dispose of nuclear waste except in accordance with an authorisation to dispose of radioactive waste granted by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board]

  3. Land Acquisition Act, 1894

    Section 17(1) [In case of urgency, the Collector may take possession of land within 15 days from the publication of the notification. In such cases, the provisions relating to hearing objections shall not apply]

  4. The Maharashtra Project Affected Persons Rehabilitation Act, 1999

    Section 6(c) [One member from each affected family shall be eligible for employment]

  5. Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991

    Section 3(1) [Prior clearance shall be obtained for all activities to be undertaken in Coastal Regulation Zones]

  6. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

    Section 24(1)(b) [No person shall be permitted to discharge into a stream any matter that will cause pollution]

  7. Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

    Section 24(2) [For any land acquisition made under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, prior to five years from the commencement of the new Act, the proceedings will deemed to have lapsed where the physical possession of the land has not been taken]

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

No

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Bombay

Case Number

W.P. No. 8458 of 2008

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

During a protest on December 14, 2005, Section 144 was imposed and 55 people were arrested when a group of protesters went to the site to interrupt the survey.

Date of Violation

December 14, 2005

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts), Campaigns (Grassroots organisations/press releases/media), Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials , Development of a network or collective action , Objections as part of official procedures , Protests/marches, Public campaign, Refusal of compensation

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Department of Atomic Energy

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

National Power Corporation of India Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Électricité de France

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Nupur Sonar

Reviewed By

Nupur Sonar

Updated By

Nupur Sonar

Edited By

Nupur SonarLand Conflict Watch
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