Nuclear News From Karnataka
(From: Vol 1 Issue 2)
The Karnataka government is finally making arrangements to send study teams to various nuclear installations in the country, in order to fulfill its long standing promise to convince its people about the feasability and the safety of nuclear technology. Four teams of five members each will visit Tarapur, Jaduguda mines, Kota, and Kalpakkam by mid October. People selected for this tour are from the North Kannara district in which the Kaiga nuclear plant is proposed to be set up.
The chief minister had proposed such a study tour two years ago, after a public demonstration against the Kaiga project. However the Hegde government had not taken any steps towards fulfil-ling its promise till the question was raised during a crowded press conference where the chief minister had to renew his promise.
All the 20 members of the study teams have been contacted by the government. Each team con-sists of one MLA, one learned person (like princi-pal of a local college), a journalist and two other local people. The leading anti-nuke group CANE (Citizens Against Nuclear Energy) is preparing background materials for the teams.
Karnataka is the only state in India which harbours all the different segments of the nuclear ‘fuel cycle’, from uranium mining in Arebail in a fuel processing and uranium enrichment plant under construction at Ratnahalli, from the con-struction of a nuclear reactor at Kaiga to the investigation into feasability of a high level waste depository at the Kolar gold field; Karnataka has them all. Thanks, are probably due to an excess of local feeling in Dr. Raja Ramanna and Dr. M. R. Srinivasan both of whom hail from Bangalore. This uncalled for intrusion into their lives has caused resentment in many and has resulted in the springing up of many groups ready to protest the activities of the nuclear empire.
The Rare Earths Materials Plant (REMP) at Ratnahalli near Mysore city needs to be watched by every anti-nuclear group in the country. Six years ago the Indian Rare Earths began its secret activities here by building a 20′ high wall on the shore of the Kannambadi reservoir along the river Kaveri. Huge pipelines and massive electricity cables were laid without any questions being asked. Local newspapers began sporadic reporting last year about the possibility of a uranium enrichment facility coming up at this complex. But for Tarapur, all Indian reactors operate on natural uranium. Tarapur is in any case destined for closure by 1992. Enrichment would hence be a step essentially in the direction of nuclear weapons production. The enrichment process requires huge amounts of energy. Thus, the facility would besides posing a grave threat to the people and the environment would be a drain of hugh energy reserve and it would be interna-tionally controversial. The DAE has, however, casually brushed aside the bomb production rumour without giving any other plausible explanation for the sudden spurt of secret activity at Ratnahally. People of Mysore — the mayor, university profes-sors, PUCL activists and students have seriously questioned these secret operations. However, till now no question has been raised in the state as-sembly. So much for the democratic set up.
Young people, especially students are taking up the REMP and Kaiga issues very seriously. Wall writtings have appeared in major cities like Bid ar, Gulbarga, Raichur, Chitradurga, Mysore and Bangalore. A rally was organized in Chitra-durga on July 17th in which about 600 people participated. A state level seminar was held in Bangalore on August 2nd. Four days later a rally was held in Bidar. Chitradurga witnessed a bandh on 14th of August during which 400 students sub-mitted a memorandum to the district commisioner demanding a halt to all atomic activities in Karnataka. The students under the common banner of ‘Progressive Youth Centre’ then went to Mysore and mobilized a large number of students there with the help of slide shows, street plays and video films. There has thus been a mobilization of a large number of people in and around Ratnahally.
Meanwhile, Professor Ramalingam of the de-partment of Botany at the university of Mysore has been transfered to the Karnataka university at Dharwar. He had been the most vocal among the academicians on the question of the location of the REMP complex. Undeterred by this ‘punishment’ he has continued to address other student rallies.
“Stop Kaiga Memorandum”
The signature campaign launched by CANE appealing the Prime minister of India to stop the Kaiga reactor, is gaining momentum. Many pro-minent writers, poets, artists and senior citizens have signed the statement. It may be recalled here that some 135 environmentalists from 32 countries who had attended the ‘Global Develop-ment and Environment’ conference at Penang in April, had signed a similar memorandum. Besides, some 75000 local residents of the North Kannara district have already signed the memorandum.
Shri Nagesh Hegde is a journalist and a social activist
Contact Address : C|o. CANE, 138, 5th Cross, 1st phase J P Nagar, Bangalore 560078
The Prime Minister of India
We oppose the Government’s decision to site a nuclear power plant at Kaiga in the heart of a precious patch of rainforest. The small hit of this unique biosphere remaining should not he exposed to the hazards of radiation and other developmental projects.
Nuclear wastes and dead nuclear plants in this river belt exposes future generations to radiation hazards by contaminating the land, water and air.
Concentration of large dams, a naval base and the nuclear plant turns this area into a high security risk.
Scientific energy management and tapping of safe and renewable alternative sources will meet all our energy needs.
ON BEHALF OF THE COMING GENERATIONS WE OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT AT KAIGA.
Name Designation & Address Signature:
Please Send this signed memorandum to : Citizens Against Nuclear Energy (CANE). 138, 5th Cross, 1st Phase, J P Nagar, Bangalore-560 078.