19th March 2011
An Open Letter to Mr. Jairam Ramesh,
Dear Mr. Ramesh,
I have seen your recent interview to Headlines Today channel on the 18th March, regarding the nuclear issue. You said, “This is not a stop button, but a pause button” and added that while India must reassess the situation, there is no need to abandon the programme. In fact, you went on to say, that India cannot afford to go without this nuclear expansion, otherwise, where will we get the energy from? With global warming, nuclear is the only solution, since it’s a Clean Energy and doesn’t emit green house gases.
Really? That is a point that we can debate about endlessly. But that is not my intention. You have also said in the same interview, for the first question, well, China is rethinking about their expansion programme, because they are going for Nuclear in a big way, and Germany is shutting down due to public opposition. And you added, but we are not going for nuclear in a big way like China, right now, nuclear component is 3 percent of the total electricity generated, by 2020 it will be 6 percent and by 2030, it will go up to 13%. So, basing on your own words, “How is this 13 percent electricity going to solve India’s electricity problems?”(Forget about energy problems, which include various other things like oil for transportation, cooking fuel etc. By the way, the total electricity component of the energy component of India even by 2030 will not be more than 25% as it is in developed countries like USA now.) So, would it really matter to Not have this 13% electricity in a country, where nearly 30-40% of electricity produced is actually lost in Transmission and distribution? And we don’t like to invest in technology to save these losses?
Second, you said, “Germany is closing its nuke plants due to public opposition” so the interviewer asked you, but in Jaitapur, the public has been opposing the NPP but they have been lathi charged and arrested. Your reply: “Well, that is a state issue”. Really? But it was your unprecedented Haste at granting the Environmental Clearance for Jaitapur plant, that has resulted in the Public uproar, so, simple, just the way you took the example of Germany, withdraw the Clearance for Jaitapur NPP, and then no one will protest, and no one will be arrested, and you would have actually respected public opinion. But then you never had any intention of respecting public opinion, you knew that the public would oppose the project if a public hearing was conducted, therefore, you decided to do away with the EPH process altogether, basing on “economic and strategic interests”, which actually meant to please the bosses in French Government.
So, the interviewer asked, “but these Areva reactors which are being set up are untested technology, so people are saying why are they being installed here?” Your reply, “well, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is not competent enough to assess the technology, it is for the NPCIL and DAE to do that”. So, if your department is not competent enough to assess the dangers from the technology to the environment (including people’s health) why did you give an EC in the first place? And quoting your words which appeared in press in October 2010, “the MoEF has gone through the 1000 page EIA document and has decided to give EC based on our judgment, and “due to strategic and economic interests”, we are granting EC to facilitate the inking of the agreement between NPCIL and Areva, during the visit of Mr. Sarkozy.”
Coming back to the interview on Headlines Today, you went on to add regarding the “untested technology of Areva, which the interviewer said, it’s run into some trouble in Finland where the first ever of these reactors is being installed”, “Well, I am not a salesman for Areva, but though this is a new technology, we are not the only ones using it, China had placed an order for ….reactors, etc etc, even in Finland, very shortly, it will begin operation…” Really, does it sound like a sale pitch for Areva or what?
But you actually sound like a Salesman for the Nuclear Lobby rather than an Environment Minister of the country.
But that’s not all. In your own pronouncements, “you seem to be worried about the green house gases, so you promote Nuclear” but you allow the setting up of Coal fired Thermal Power Plants in hundreds across the country, and then a lot of them on the eco-sensitive coastal zones. Two have been set up in wetlands of east coast. But horror of horrors, 28 plants of 35,000 MW are being set up within 10km radius in Nellore. When someone asked you, “you have cancelled the environmental clearance to Sompeta, NCC thermal power plant, yet you have allowed setting up of such a massive amount of thermal plants in one single place, your reply, “We cancelled the project in Sompeta, as the public over there opposed”. So, by those same standards, you should be canceling Jaitapur NPP, instead you go on and on saying, but we gave an EC with 35 conditions. Who cares about conditions in this country, where it’s so easy to grease people to bend the rules? And anyway, who has written those conditional clearances, someone like Mr. A. Balraj, who was the EAC Chairman for the Bhavanapadu Thermal Power Project in Kakrapalli, and who also happens to be one of the big bosses of the Company promoting Bhavanapadu TPP?
So, what does the MoEF do? Sit around and watch the fun, while the “state issue” takes on – lathi charging, setting houses on fire, killing two innocent fishermen, who have only asked for a right to their livelihood, and 90 year old women are dragged to jail and attempt to murder cases slapped against the innocent, mostly women, whose only mistake was to say, “no to Bhavanapadu TPP” and that too since the filling up of the wetland has resulted in starvation for the fishermen and crop losses for farmers. And the NEAA, said, ‘while it’s true that the said project is situated in a wetland region, since the project started, we cannot cancel it!” So, the MoEF and its Minister, you, take the route of convenience as it pleases you. The innocent fisher folk and farmers of Kakrapalli villages are being slapped with Attempt to Murder cases and being randomly arrested even as I write this letter to you. Who is responsible for this torture and murder and distress of the people of those villages? Who should be slapped with attempt to Murder cases? The revenue officials who conveniently said, its waste land and not wetland? The MoEF, which set up an EAC Chairperson, without checking on his background, (or was it deliberate?) The NEAA which continued the EC with “conditions”, the State Government which simply decided to eliminate those who are asking for their rights, or You, who sitting up there, like the PM, say, “well, I didn’t ask anyone to do it.’ In these days of satellite images, even a school boy can tell if a place is a wetland or wasteland by the click of a button. Now don’t tell me that the MoEF didn’t know about it. Or was it deliberate deafness and blindness?
Just the way, right now, everyone has been crying hoarse, trying to tell you, Jaitapur is a Earthquake prone area, but very conveniently, the reports have been changed, so from being a highly dangerous Grade 4 quake zone, now, Jaitapur is Grade 2. So, “you see, no harm, India has had a long history of using Nuclear Technology absolutely safe”. It’s another story that hundreds of casual workers are exposed to radiation in Nuclear Plants across the country, but then they are not permanent employees, so their numbers don’t count. It’s another story that nearly 192 scientists working in the Indian nuclear plants have committed suicides in 15 years. Wonder why? May be, a conflict of Conscience, where they are restricted to not speak the truth, but they know they are living a lie?
A reporter asked me on another tv show, what are the dangers post Japanese Nuclear Meltdown, I had to reply, “Our politicians and bureaucrats”. When Japan has been hit by crisis, its PM stood by his people, I wonder what politicians here will do, like the former Chief Minister of MP, Mr. Arjun Singh, who ran off to Delhi, while people died in Bhopal, will all of you, who are telling us this is “very safe” give your lives or simply abscond and fly off to a safe haven? I believe the later will be the situation.
The most dangerous of them all, are people like you and Mr. Manmohan Singh with that “clean and green” image, which is the greatest deception of all. It’s easier dealing with outspoken rascals who parade as our parliamentarians; at least we know their intentions, we only do not realize that time and again we are being duped by Smooth Talking folks like you.
Filmmaker and Activist