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Home News Power Sector News Farmers oppose 6000MW Bhavnagar nuclear power project

Farmers oppose 6000MW Bhavnagar nuclear power project

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BhavnagarA storm of resistance is brewing in the mango orchards of coastal Bhavnagar district. As the Union government proposes to set up a 6,000 Mw nuclear plant at Mithi Virdi village, farmers from the five villages of Jaspara, Mithi Virdi, Khadarpar, Mandva and Sosiya have come together to pledge that they would die rather than give their fertile farmland for the power plant.

The movement has gained strength after the recently successful farmers' agitation against corporate giant Nirma's proposed cement plant in adjacent Mahuva block. On Friday, it saw at least 3,000 apprehensive farmers meeting at Mithi Virdi.

"We call the land our mother. It has sustained us through generation," Jaspara's Geetaben told the emotionally charged crowd .

"This land gives us cereal, fruits such as mangos, coconuts, berries and chikoo. We can't just sell it off," she said. "Even if they pay us a few crores, we'll only fritter the money away. Then what will happen?" she asked.

The simmering anger is palpable among the villagers.

Virubha Gohil of Khadarpar, Upendra Singh from Jaspara and Nigha Vihora from Mithi Virdi are vociferous in their opposition to the project.

"We would rather die than part with our land," they say.

If the government has its way, 877 hectares of land in the undulating coastal area of Bhavnagar will be taken over for six nuclear reactors. Of this, 603 hectares falls under the high-yield 'double crop' category.

Political activists cutting across party lines have come out in support of the villagers.

"They are saying nuclear energy is clean and would come cheap," said Sanat Mehta, former finance minister of Gujarat. "If it is so clean and cheap, why don't they take the plant to Delhi or Gandhinagar?" he told the meeting.

Gordhan Zadaphia, former minister of state for home affairs, Kanu Kalsaria, the new face of the farmer's movement in Gujarat, as well as nonagenarian Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya are also a part of the movement.

The farmers have so far thwarted every effort to acquire land. "They had come to test the soil. But we unanimously rejected their request at the gramsabha," said Shaktisinh Gohil, the sarpanch of Jaspara.

"People from the Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd had also come to measure the land about a year ago. But fearing a law and order situation after we resisted, they went back," he added.

The farmers also fear the possibility of a nuclear disaster, with farmer activist like Bharat Jambukia from Paniala village talking about the disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima. " They have been trying to convince us it is safe. But we can't take chances when it concerns the lives of so many people," he said.

Source- India Today


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