Solidarity statement with the anti-nuclear struggle in Chutka

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The resilient and courageous people of Chutka, India, who have been fighting a relentless battle against the nuclear project in their vicinity, which will displace them once again after the Bargi dam on Narmada, and endanger their safety, organised a big rally on December 12th, 2017. This marked the culmination of the 2 month long grassroots campaign that they started on 2nd October. You can see more details about this campaign in the linked article.

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Statement in Solidarity with Chutka Struggle

We extend our solidarity to the people of Narmada Valley, who are organising a massive protest rally this week (message as of 11th of December, 2017) against the proposed Chutka nuclear plant. Hundreds of thousands of people, especially from the Gond adivasi tribe in Central India, are waging an intense, yet peaceful struggle against this project, which threatens their safety, lives and livelihoods. Ironically, the same communities were displaced for the Bargi dam on Narmada river in 1990, on similar promises of rehabilitation, jobs and development, which never materialised.

We find it particularly appalling that the Government of India is violating constitutional provisions for the protection of adivasi land and their rights to forests and natural resources. Mandla District comes under the Schedule of Panchayat (Extension to Schedule Areas) Act and yet the government has used pressure tactics to grab land for the nuclear plant. Extremely fragile ecologies, communities as well as other living species dependent on them will be destroyed by the Chutka nuclear power project. Changing climate will further compound the problems of these communities who will scramble for drinking and irrigation water as hugely water-guzzling nuclear plants are built in the area. The Bargi dam was built exclusively for irrigation and diverting its water for nuclear and other industrial projects is a breach of trust of the local people. In case of a nuclear accident, the water will prove insufficient for cooling the reactors and the consequences could be worse than Fukushima.

As India completely lacks a safety culture as well as independent and effective nuclear regulation, the country’s former nuclear regulator has very recently warned against any further nuclear expansion. We demand that the government of India pays heed to such independent voices and organises an open and democratic consultation with affected and concerned people at the earliest. We also strongly oppose the violent arm-twisting of dissenting voices at the grassroots and vilification of anti-nuclear activists that the government has resorted to in recent years.

Once again, we extend our complete moral support to the courageous people of the Narmada valley – women, elderly, children, farmers and fisher folk – who have shown extreme resilience and restraint in this long-drawn, non-violent struggle.

Report: December 12th rally

Hundreds of people from Chutka and surrounding villages assembled at the district headquarters in Mandla to raise their voice against the upcoming nuclear power project in their area. Through a massive rally and ‘chetavani sabha’ (warning/cautioning meeting), the people of the region, a majority of whom belong to the Gond adivasi community, sent a clear message to the Central and State Governments, through the local administration – that they do not want the nuclear plant which threatens their safety and livelihood, destroys the fragile ecology, and ruthlessly uproots them. The indignation felt by the protestors at the callousness of the administration that uprooted them first for the Bargi Dam in the 1990s, and is now doing it all over again for the nuclear power plant, was palpable.

This huge gathering was attended by eminent activists from across India including, Medha Patkar, Prafull Samatray, Aradhana Bhargava and Rajkumar Sinha. Ms Patekar recalled the long and glorious battle that the people of the region fought in the early 1990s when the Bargi dam had displaced them. She said that the adivasi land and lives have no value for the policy makers and governments obsessed with a neo-liberal, growth-centric model of development that is destroying fragile ecologies and traditional sources of livelihood.

Please see the full report and more pictures here:

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