Karwar: The Union government’s plans to set up two additional units at Kaiga Atomic Power Station encountered much turbulence with local residents, elected representatives and environmentalists opposing the expansion during a public hearing on Saturday.
The government proposes to expand Kaiga Power Station by setting up fifth and sixth units. The power station already has four units. The public hearing, chaired by Uttara Kannada district Deputy Commissioner S S Nakul, witnessed strong opposition to construction of additional units. Some people went to the extent of staging a protest to express their opposition to new units.
Environmentalists including Ananth Hegde Ashisar, Nagesh Hegde, Keshav Hegde Korse and Shankar Sharma who attended the public hearing put forth detailed reasons for their opposition. They objected to MECON Limited on a report on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). They stated that the EIA by MECON itself was not correct and demanded a new assessment to be conducted by a different agency, and sought a fresh public hearing based on the new EIA report. They felt that the EIA report by MECON Ltd did not have details about damage to trees and wildlife during erection of transmission from these new units. Also they expressed their apprehensions as there was no proper report on the impact of radiation from existing four units.
Karwar MLA Roopali Naik not only opposed the expansion but even expressed her unhappiness about Kaiga atomic plant not providing jobs to local youth in four units.
The deputy commissioner assured to pass on their concerns to the Ministry of Environment and Forest. About 250 people attended the public hearing . The turnout was less as many participated in the protest headed by two former MLAs Sathish Sail and Anand Asnotikar and their supporters outside Kaiga. They organized a procession and staged a protest against the expansion plan. In addition to their opposition to the expansion of Kaiga, their main contention was the venue chosen for the public hearing. The hearing was held at Kaiga and the protesters wanted it to be held in another place.
The protesters and MLA Roopali Naik had an argument as the latter stressed on attending the public hearing and putting forth the opposition while the former did not want her to attend the public hearing but participate in the protest outside. She and her supporters, however, attended the public hearing and expressed her opposition.
Officials said that the opposition only of those who attended the public hearing would be considered and not of those who protested as they were not part of the hearing.
Meanwhile, the protesters decided to meet Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy next week and putforth their opposition to expansion of Kaiga atomic power plant.