Chutka nuke power plant faces stiff opposition

Chutka nuke power plant faces stiff opposition

The proposed Chutka atomic power station in Madhya Pradesh faced opposition on Monday from local villagers

The proposed Chutka atomic power station in Madhya Pradesh faced opposition on Monday from local villagers, who feared displacement.

The locals who experienced displacement in the 1990s because of the construction of the Bargi dam on Narmada river apprehend a similar fate when the construction of the two 700 MW units of nuclear power station would commence.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited acquired 708.19 hectares of land for the plant and township to be set up at Chutka in Mandla district. Out of the total land acquired 640.53 ha is for the plant site and 67.66 ha for the township.

The land acquired for the project can be further broken down to 287.21 ha of private land, 119.46 ha of forest land, 260.03 ha NVDA (Narmada Valley Development Authority) land and 41.49 ha of government land.

The land was acquired from three villages – Chutka, Tatighat and Kundla – but activists claimed people from 54 villages would be affected by the plant.

“The Gram Sabhas were not consulted by the district administration. We organised an Adivasi Sammelan (Conference of the tribes) against the project,” said Navratan Dubey, an office-bearer of Chutka Parmanu Virodh Sangharsh Samiti – an NGO set to fight against the nuclear power station.

Mandla district enjoys a special status for the protection of cultural distinctiveness of the tribes because of which the Gram Sabha (village general assembly) has certain legal powers.

“According to the Indian Constitution and complimentary law, with Mandla district being in Schedule 5 and under the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, the opposition and rejection by three Gram Sabhas should mean the project must be withdrawn. But the government is violating its own legal provisions,” says a report on Chutka protest. Prepared by the Women's Regional Network, the report was released here on Tuesday.

“We faced displacement once due to Bargi dam, will we face the same once against because of the Chutka project,” wondered Meera Bai, one of the villagers from the area.

“We were taken to Tarapur where people told us not to have a nuclear project in our vicinity. We went to Rawatbhatta where we found empty colony. We are worried but no one talks to the villagers,” said Dadu Lal Kudape, another office-bearer of the NGO opposing the project.

NPCIL sources said the work on the resettlement colony was in progress and 92% of the private landowners received the compensation. The project has received forest land stage-one and environment clearance, and a review by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is in process.