KARWAR: Many issues are at stake in the proposed debate on the impact of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Project on the environment and people, slated to be held at Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district on Tuesday. The Zilla Parisara Samrakshana Samiti has arranged the debate.
A similar debate was held in Bangalore when a people’s movement was launched in 1985. Authorities in the nuclear establishment took the initiative then to dispel apprehensions about the impact of radiation.
They had even arranged for a visit of a few citizens and media persons to nuclear power projects in Mumbai and Kalpakam in Tamil Nadu. However, the stalemate continued. Much water has flown under the Kali Bridge since then. Despite prolonged agitation by environmental groups, the NPCIL established four reactor units with generating capacity of 220 MW at Kaiga. Now there is a proposal to establish two more units at the site, each with installed capacity of 700 MW, despite the fact that existing units suffer from fuel shortage.
It was not all smooth sailing for the NPCIL at Kaiga. The dome of the first reactor unit collapsed in May 1994 delaying its construction by a few more years. In 1999 and again in 2001, people of Sirsi and Yellapur staged a protest against the laying of a high tension power line from Kaiga through the thick forest region.
The Kiaga Nuclear Power Generating Station was also hit by major controversies in 2009 following the disappearance of a scientific officer and leak of tritium, a radioactive isotope, in a water cooler located in the first reactor unit. A fire incident in the third reactor unit followed in April 2011. Although the body of the scientific officer was found in the Kali a week later and declared as a suicide, the tritium leak case still remains unsolved.
Lack of transparency on the part of Kaiga authorities is evident. In case of the tritium leak, the district administration was informed after three days.
Villagers of Bare, Malavalli, Vajralli and Kalache in Yellapur taluk have reported more cancer cases after the establishment of the Kaiga Project. However this claim needs scientific proof.