Bhopal tragedy survivors demand probe into nuke plant projects

Indo Asian News Service

Bhopal, March 22 (IANS) Paying homage to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the survivors of the Bhopal gas leak tragedy Tuesday demanded a high level independent scientific investigation into the proposed nuclear reactors in India.

Organisations fighting for the cause of gas leak victims in Bhopal came together to voice concern over nuclear safety in the wake of the crisis at Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

'The conditions at Indian nuclear plants are poorer than in Japan and it has been the tendency of the government to hide the issues from the people,' said Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

Sarangi called for independent review of the proposed nuclear power plants in Chutkha (Madhya Pradesh), Haripur (West Bengal), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Pitti Sonapur (Orissa) and Kowada (Andhra Pradesh).

Pointing out the locational similarities of Fukushima and the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharastra, Sarangi said: 'According to a Geological Survey of India report, Jaitapur has witnessed 92 earthquakes between 1985 and 2009. Since the local people are also opposing the plant, the work there should be immediately suspended.'

'The Fukushima disaster has highlighted the importance of public knowledge concerning all aspects of the nuclear industry. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board being part of the department of atomic energy is not an independent body and the Indian people cannot rely on it for authentic information,' he added.

Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said that by causing irreparable damage to the environment large corporations are hastening the possibilities for natural disasters.

She added that in Bhopal, where over 24,000 have died since the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak and many are still dying, people can feel the pain of the thousands of Japanese who lost their dear ones in the earthquake and tsunami.

Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow-Carbide called for independent scientific investigations into the operation and impact of the 19 reactors currently operating in various parts of India.

She said that there has been no official study yet on the health effects including birth defects and cancer in the communities around these nuclear plants.

The activists said they would meet Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on the issue and also co-operate with the villagers who are opposing the Jaitapur nuclear plant.

The gas leak tragedy survivors, holding banners that said 'No More Bhopal, No More Fukushima' observed two minutes' silence in the memory of those who lost their lives in the Japanese disaster.