Storm brews over Haryana nuke plant

The farmer—Ishwar Singh Siwach—died early this month while sitting on a chain hunger fast against a proposed nuclear power plant in Fatehabad.

The concern of possible radiation leaks and nuclear emissions has left villagers apprehensive of their fate. The issue is threatening the prospects of this mega project, estimated to generate 2,800 MW of power, with thousands of villagers seemingly in no mood to let the project see the light of the day.

Although the family of Ishwar Singh finally conceded to certain verbal assurances from the local authorities and performed the old man’s last rites, the agitation is far from over. The protest and chain hunger strike by farmers has crossed 400 days.

Ishwar is the second farmer to have died during this agitation. The proposed nuclear power plant is to come up in 1,300 acres in Gorkhpur, Kajalhedi and Badopal villages for which the acquisition process is under way. The agitation looks like poised to gather momentum with a convention called for November 1 which may witness nuclear scientists and social activists arriving at the site to discuss the controversy, said sources.

Ironically, Ishwars Singh’s death while protesting early this month came at the time when Haryana Chief Minister B S Hooda was in Japan with a team of his ministers wooing investors. Interestingly, the protest against the Fatehabad nuclear plant has found support from unexpected quarters. Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan is supporting the farmers echoing similar concerns.

Over a week ago, Bhushan visited the protesting farmers and pledged his support. He has hoped that his team mentor Anna Hazare will also try to make it possible to visit the protesting farmers.

According to sources, owners of about 213 acres have not agreed to part with their land. Ishwar Singh owned 13.5 acres which is still to be acquired.

The opposition Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana is critical of the ruling government on the issue and has accused the Hooda government of being pro-rich.

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