India’s rural communities angry over uranium and weapons projects
Grasslands bristle over uranium plant, test range http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Grasslands-bristle-over-uranium-plant-test-range/articleshow/20357979.cms Deepika Burli, TNN | May 31, 2013 BANGALORE: Green activists and local villagers have taken serious exception to proposals from defence and research institutions to build sensitive projects on the 10,000 acres of Amrit Mahal Kaval land allotted to them in Challakere taluk of Chitradurga district.
“The Barc plan envisages conducting experiments with uranium, which will not only ruin the fertility of the land but put the lives of so many villagers at risk. Fear already pervades the grasslands,” Leo Saldanha, co-ordinator, Environment Support Group, told a press conference here on Thursday.
“Even after improper rain for two years, the land is extremely fertile. The NGT has accepted the fact that organizations have tainted many details so as to continue work there,” said Saldanha. “If uranium is used for any experiment, then for the next many years the land cannot be used for any purpose and water from here won’t be potable,” he added.
A public hearing and spot inspection at the Amrit Mahal Kavals last week witnessed over 1,000 people making clear their opposition to the land diversion. It was conducted by a fact-finding committee of the NGT.
“People from all villages around the kaval attended the hearing. They pointed out that the land was never fallow and was used by everyone in their own way,” said Vinay Sreenivasa, member, National Alliance of People’s Movement.
DRDO’s project, activists pointed out, involved using drones and an aeronautical testing range. Indiscriminate drilling of deep borewells and dropping of bombs could pose a threat to endangered species like the blackbucks along with peacocks and hares.
“The water table has been adversely affected. Besides, villagers are beaten up by guards if they take their cattle to graze anywhere near the land allotted to these institutions,” Sreenivasa alleged.
“After attending the hearing, the MLA of Molkaalmooru too submitted a memorandum to the NGT,” Saldhana said.
HC hearing on June 3
The diversion of 10,000 acres of Amrit Mahal Kaval land, used as grazing land for the state’s flagship Amrit Mahal cattle breed, to IISc, Indian Space Research Organization (Isro), Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc) has raised the hackles of locals. The villagers allege the diversion of land was blatant violation of the Forest Act as they were not consulted on the same. They have moved the NGT, which is slated to take up the issue in July. Karnataka high court, meanwhile, is to hear a petition against the land diversion on June 3. Even as the villagers and greens had begun voicing their opposition to the diversion, DRDO and Barc proposals have come as salt on their wounds.
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