Proposed Nuclear Power Plant Spurs Protests and Repression in India

Indian activists protest nuclear power. DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images

The struggle for the right to information, local consent, and a healthy environment has gone on for years at the site of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant – at India’s far southern tip. Now, after the disastrous failure of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, and with the Kudankulam plant nearing completion, the protests have intensified.

And so has the repression of over 100,000 protesters’ rights to gather peacefully and speak up against the plant.

On one side are opponents of the plant, mostly local, who fear that proper safety precautions have not been taken at a site affected by tsunamis and earthquakes. They would surely bear the heaviest burden should anything go wrong at the plant.

Some have asked why the plant is being built in remote rural Tamil Nadu instead of near Delhi. They have not been properly informed or consulted by authorities about the plant and its risks, which threatens the lives and livelihoods of these fishing communities. Protesters have peacefully demonstrated, carried out extended hunger strikes, and surrendered their voter IDs in protest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Battle for the Future of India

Jagatsinghpur district in the eastern Indian state of Orissa is a poor rural place. But it is at the crucible of a battle for the future of India.

In 2005, state and national governments approved a massive steel plant here, and the South Korean steel company POSCO prepared to sink $12 billion into the project. Yet from the beginning, local residents objected to this top-down development, which would push them from their farmland and fishing spots, depriving them of their homes, land, and livelihoods (if history is any guide, they were likely to end up in distant urban slums).

After hundreds of villagers were forcibly evicted last summer opposition stiffened locally, across India and around the world. By late 2011, the Orissa government began resorting to jailing peaceful protest leaders on false charges. First it was Abhay Sahoo – who had also been jailed for 10 months in 2008-9. Then, it was Narayan Reddy.

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Shell's Weak Response to Activists' Demands

It’s complicated, claimed Shell on their Facebook page today in response to the barrage of messages Amnesty activists have been leaving them on Facebook, Twitter and via email demanding they own up, clean up and pay up their mess in the Niger Delta.

But nothing is complicated about the fact that Shell has reaped billions from its oil extractions in the Niger Delta while multiple oil spills there have devastated local communities. And that they’re once again failing to take responsibility for their actions and attempting to shift the blame.  Read their full Facebook response:

shell facebook post

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New Evidence Reveals Shell Wildly Underreported Niger Delta Oil Spill

shell clean up niger delta

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know about the devastation oil spills has brought communities in the Niger Delta and Shell Oil’s continuing resistance to take full responsibility.

Now, new data obtained by Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) bring shocking new facts to light.  Shell dramatically under-estimated the damage of a 2008 spill that resulted in tens of thousands of barrels of oil polluting the land and creek surrounding Bodo, a Niger Delta town of some 69,000 people.

The spills, that gushed for weeks before being stopped, have devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people, destroying livelihoods, undermining access to food and clean water and putting health at risk.

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4 Ways to Join Global Activists in Shaming Shell

shell own up pay up clean up niger delta

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Shell has reaped billions from its oil extractions in the Niger Delta.  Meanwhile, multiple oil spills there have scarred local communities.

It’s so bad that the fish local people catch and the water they drink are foully contaminated by oil pollution – destroying lives and livelihoods.

Despite this devastation, Shell has yet to take full responsibly of its spills and fully compensate victims.  When Shell holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM) this May, Amnesty activists will have delivered thousands of petitions in an unsparing public message to CEO Peter Voser and Shell shareholders.

In preparation for this delivery, we’re launching a week of action around Earth Day to remind Shell of their responsibility to own up, pay up and clean up the Niger Delta.  Help us publicly Shame shell into cleaning up their mess:

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London Olympics Further Tainted by Dow Chemical

Activists and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal disaster

Activists and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster demonstrate. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Since we last told you about Dow Chemical’s controversial Olympic sponsorship, things seem to have only gotten worse for Dow Chemical – from a public relations perspective anyway. Along with Dow Chemical’s horribly insensitive comments, the increased media attention has only revealed additional ethically troubling business practices.

The International Olympic Committee and games’ organizers continue (for now) solidly and uncritically back Dow as a sponsor, despite harsh criticism from Amnesty and others. But if Dow Chemical was hoping that it might benefit from the benevolent glow of the Olympic spirit of international goodwill, the past few weeks have not been kind.

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Corporate Accountability Comes Before the U.S. Supreme Court

By Erica Razook, Amnesty’s Business and Human Rights Group

Members of the Ogoni community outside of the Supreme Court, February 28, 2012. Esther Kiobel, center.

Esther Kiobel is a person.

The bright sunlight that washed the steps of the US Supreme Court on Tuesday did not compete with her radiance, the resolve of a widow, a survivor. Outside the court, her eyes searched unquestionably and steadfastly for justice.

In January 1995, when she visited her husband Barinem in a Nigerian prison to bring him some food, she was stripped, beaten and thrown into a cell herself. In November that year, Barinem was executed alongside eight other activists from the Ogoni region of Nigeria, provoking widespread international condemnation of the country’s military rulers.

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Vedanta Corp: Creating Happiness or Creating Misery?

vedanta ad india

By Rizvi Amir Abbas Syed, used by permission

Vedanta, a UK-based corporation that mostly operates in India, has a big PR problem of its own making. For example, it has been implicated in creating a toxic red mud pond that threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of tribal people in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

You would think that Vedanta should do what’s right and take steps to ensure that the environment and livelihood of the neighboring villages are protected. Vedanta might have taken steps to apologize, compensate and clean up the mess that they’ve already made in those communities.

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More Peaceful Protesters in World's Largest Democracy's Jails

In recent weeks, human rights and environmental activists have celebrated a court ruling rejecting a massive expansion of the Vedanta Mining Company’s hazardous alumina refinery and toxic red mud pond located in India’s eastern state of Orissa.

However, peaceful protesters continue to face police violence at the site, and 47 villagers have been jailed on false charges, signaling that the saga of Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery is not yet over.

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Nuclear Power Plant Protesters Charged With Sedition

Tamil Nadu Nuclear Plant Protes

courtesy of the Indian Muslim Observer

You would think that after the massive 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and last year’s nuclear calamity at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, Indian authorities might consider more closely the potential threats posed by the country’s many nuclear power plants.

But unlike some countries that have spurned the aggressive pursuit of nuclear power post-Fukushima, India presses on full speed ahead. Barely five months after the Fukushima disaster and despite serious concerns about India’s readiness for a similar accident, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said:
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