The government seems to be succeeding in pushing through the proposal to build a nuclear power plant in Fatehabad district of Haryana. Much of the opposition seems to have melted away after the farmers affected by the project received compensation at the rate of Rs 46 lakh per acre (0.4 hectare) from the Haryana government. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the project proponent, has proposed the construction of a 2,800 MW power plant. A total of 608.5 hectares of land is required for the project. Most of the land being acquired is agricultural land in Gorakhpur and adjoining villages of Badopal and Kajalheri.
The first phase of development of the nuclear plant, that involves the topographic survey followed by geotechnical investigation of the project area, commenced on September 6.
Affected farmers had been opposing the project since 2009. In the public hearing on July 17, this year, hundreds of villagers along with local activists turned up to protest against the nuclear power plant. Their primary concerns were land acquisition, water and health hazards from possible radiation.
But the tide seems to have now turned in NPCIL's favour after the announcement of the compensation package. The compensation so far totals Rs 419.82 crore, which, according to the government, takes care of almost all the farmers of Gorakhpur, Baropal and Kajalheri villages, whose lands are being acquired for the project.
After farming families started received compensation, many farmers disassociated themselves from the protesting farmer’s alliance, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti. Some fragmented protests are still on.
“The focus of the protest has now shifted from anti-land acquisition to the risks associated with nuclear power plant,” says Kumar Sundaram, an antinuclear activist who has been working closely with the protesters. Some villagers are still protesting against the land acquisition and are holding sit-in protest in front of the Fatehabhad collector's office, but they are mostly share-croppers who did not receive any compensation and face a very uncertain future,” informs local activist Rajendra Sharma.
According to T R Arora, chief project manager with NPCIL, it will take about two more years for the plant construction to begin as there is a need to improve infrastructure of and access to the area first.
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