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Popular resistance stops site preparations for NPP in India

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE India

The Government of India and the Government of Gujarat have proposed the construction of a 6-8000 MW nuclear power plant in Mithi Virdi-Jaspara villages of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. National Alliance of People's Movements, Anu Abhyas Group, Bhavnagar District Gram Bachao Samiti, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat Lok Samiti have been spearheading the awareness creation campaign in 40 villages in the area for the last three years.

Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd. and various Gujarat Government agencies have intensified efforts to set up shop in the area and people have steadfastly resisted all such attempts. A public meeting attended by over 7000 people had been held on 25 April 2010 to impress upon the Government that it should drop any idea of forcing the nuclear power plant on the people of the area.

Various Government agencies have yet persisted with their efforts. Most recently, police officers visited Mithi Virdi and Jaspara villages on 9 June to persuade people to let officials undertake soil testing but they were firmly told to go back. The Gram Sabha (village assembly) gave them the same message that night. Police again went to the villages on 10 June warning that Government officials would carry out soil testing under police protection on 'Government lands' 11 June morning onwards. The villagers decided to resist this nonviolently at the site (directly next to the infamous Alang ship breaking yard).

Government contractors along with a posse of policemen turned up at the site before dawn at 5 am. As soon as villagers heard police and other vehicles drive into the area an alert (drum beats in each village) was sounded in the 5 villages likely to lose lands. Regular morning chores such as water supply, animal-grazing, cooking & breakfast preparation etc. were suspended and over 3000 people rushed to the site. Government

officials at first continued to try to force through the soil testing by unloading drilling equipment but people surrounded the site and refused to allow them to start work. After frantic phone calls to higher ups and everyone who mattered they finally relented and announced withdrawal and started reloading their equipment. So, that was round two to the nonviolent struggle where unarmed nonviolent men, women and children turned back State power (round one of course being the awakening).

An impromptu meeting was held after the police and Government officials left the site to announce that people's resolve is only firmer now.

Source and contact: WISE India