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The Emerging Japan-India Relationship: Nuclear Anachronism, Militarism and Growth Fetish 新興の日印関係—核アナクロニズム、軍国主義、成長固執 via The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

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3) Fuelling India’s nuclear energy expansion

The bargain legitimizing India’s nuclear weapons in return for its purchase of reactors from the US, Russia, France and now Japan has translated into horror for the common people of India. While the India-US nuclear deal was touted as a convergence of the world’s oldest and biggest democracies, the Government of India is repressing large, grassroots anti-nuclear movements and ignoring the voices of village-level democratically elected bodies. India has plans to build at least 20 more reactors in the next 20-30 years, and has announced ambitious plans to produce 25% of its total electricity by nuclear power – a 100 fold expansion compared to its present nuclear capacity. This expansion has threated people with displacement and the loss of livelihood, radiation and threats to health and safety, and the forcible acquisition of agricultural land and irreversible damage to fragile ecosystems in several parts of the country.

Popular protests on the issue of nuclear power in India have stemmed from three concerns: livelihood issues for the Indian poor, the inherent dangers of nuclear reactors and fears of an accident after Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the complete lack of transparency, accountability and efficiency of the Indian nuclear establishment.
Movements in every part of the country have risen in protest. Koodankulam on the southernmost tip, Mithivirdi on the West Coast, Kovvada on the East, Chutka in the middle of the country, Gorakhpur close to the capital, and Domiasiat in the far Northeast (which is being eyed by the nuclear establishment for uranium mining). Protests in all of these places have been intense yet remarkably peaceful. People at the grassroots, including large numbers of women and children, have deployed non-violent forms of resistance over several years.

Mass hunger strikes lasting several days, the peaceful siege of construction sites, sea-borne protests by fishermen on their boats, and thousands of people standing in the sea, are among the images that have been etched into our memory by the protests in Koodankulam.

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There are serious problems in the functioning of the Indian nuclear industry. India has a history of missing its nuclear power production targets miserably. Not only has it been inefficient, it has been marked with dangerous accidents, cover-ups and gross violations of best practice standards. This includes the hiring of casual workers for radiation-related work, employing them without adequate safety gear, training or health insurance, and getting away with impunity in cases of accident. Its nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, is a toothless body that is dependent on the same Department of Atomic Energy for funds and expertise that it is designed to regulate.

Read more at The Emerging Japan-India Relationship: Nuclear Anachronism, Militarism and Growth Fetish 新興の日印関係—核アナクロニズム、軍国主義、成長固執

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