For immediate publication

New Delhi

April 30, 2011

Dear Editor/News Editor/Chief Reporter,

Disregarding calls for caution arising from the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the Indian government has announced that it is going ahead with the Jaitapur nuclear project. This will mean imposing reactors of an untested design upon an unwilling people and a uniquely precious ecosystem.

There has been no independent and credible review of India's nuclear power policy, nor a proper safety audit of our nuclear installations after Fukushima. Public-spirited citizens are again called upon to urge the government to reconsider its stand, and to demand that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board be given a truly independent and powerful mandate and that its members be selected with great care and prudence.

More than 60 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement.

The prominent signatories include former Chiefs of Naval Staff Admiral L Ramdas and Vishnu Bhagwat, former Major-General SG Vombatkere, former Planning Commission member SP Shukla, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A Gopalakrishnan, former vice-chancellors Deepak Nayyar and Mushirul Hasan, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen, social scientists Romila Thapar, Sumit and Tanika Sarkar, Ramachandra Guha, Rajeev Bhargava, Amit Bhaduri, Achin Vanaik and Zoya Hasan, and scientists PM Bhargava, Satyajit Rath, MV Ramana, Suvrat Raju, writer Arundhati Roy, dancer Leela Samson, artistes Krishen Khanna, Ghulam Shaikh, SG Vasudev, Vivan Sundaram and Bharti Kher, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, and many others, including scholars, and social and environmental activists such as Vandana Shiva and Aruna Roy.

The full list of signatories appears at the bottom.

In view of the critical public importance of the issue, could you please carry the statement in full in your paper, channel or wire service? Publication of the entire list of signatories on your website would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards, Praful Bidwai



We are shocked at the government’s sheer insensitivity in announcing on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe that it is going ahead with the Jaitapur nuclear power project. This means disregarding the overwhelming opposition to the project by 40,000 local people and the larger public, the caution counselled by numerous experts, and the grave safety concerns raised by the still-unfolding Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. These concerns are eminently reasonable. Many governments, including those in Germany, China and Switzerland, have taken them on board by adopting a “pause-and-review” approach towards reactor construction. The European Union has ordered “stress tests” on all its 143 reactors lasting many months.

Our government too promised to review its nuclear installations for safety. But the Department of Atomic Energy has conducted a wholly internal, hasty and technologically superficial exercise and declared all installations perfectly safe. This is unconvincing. What is urgently needed is an independent, thorough and transparent review of our nuclear policy and installations by a broadly representative body, which includes non-DAE personnel and civil society representatives. Pending this, projects like Jaitapur must be put on hold and their clearances revoked.

We welcome the government’s intention to separate the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board from the DAE. But the AERB’s responsibilities and powers must be defined in advance and its members selected with exemplary prudence so that only persons with the highest integrity, impartiality, and commitment to the public interest are chosen by a broad-based collegium. This is as important as choosing the Lokpal. The life and death of millions will depend on the AERB. India’s experience with regulatory authorities in telecom, insurance and hydrocarbons is unhappy. We simply cannot afford “regulatory capture” in nuclear matters.

  • A Gopalakrishnan, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
  • Achin Vanaik, Professor, Political Science, Delhi University
  • AGK Menon, Architect and conservationist
  • Amit Bhaduri, Economist, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Amit Sengupta, Journalist, Executive Editor, ‘Hard News’
  • Amita Baviskar, Sociologist, Delhi School of Economics
  • Ammu Joseph, Journalist and writer, Bangalore
  • Amrita Chhachhi, Sociologist, International Institute for Social Studies
  • Anil Chaudhary, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace
  • Anuradha Chenoy, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Arun Mitra, General Secretary, Indian Doctors for Peace and Development
  • Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Rajasthan
  • Arundhati Roy, Writer and Social Activist
  • Banwarilal Sharma, Azadi Bachao Andolan
  • Bharati Chaturvedi, Chitan Environmental Group
  • Bharti Kher, Sculptor
  • C Rammanohar Reddy, Editor, ‘Economic and Political Weekly’, Mumbai
  • Darryl D’Monte, Environmental journalist and writer, Mumbai
  • Deepak Nayyar, Economist and former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University
  • Dunu Roy, Environment and Safety Activist, Hazards Centre, Delhi
  • EAS Sarma, Former Power Secretary, Government of India, Vishakhapatnam
  • Geeta Kapoor, Art critic, historian and writer
  • Girish Sant, Energy specialist, Prayas, Pune
  • Gulam Mohammed Shaikh, Artist, Baroda/Delhi
  • Harsh Kapoor, Social and Internet Activist, Delhi
  • Imrana Qadeer, Public Health Researcher, former JNU Professor, Delhi
  • Jagdeep Chhokar, former Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
  • Jaya Mehta, Economist and activist, Indore/Delhi
  • K Ashok Rao, Engineer, leader of public sector officers’ union
  • K. Sujatha Rao, Former Health Secretary, government of India.
  • Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Kamala Bhasin, Feminist Activist, SANGAT
  • KN Panikkar, Historian, formerly JNU, now in Kerala
  • Krishen Khanna, Artist
  • Kuldip Nayar, Columnist, former High Commissioner to the UK
  • L Ramdas, Former Chief of Naval Staff, India
  • Lalita Ramdas, Educator and Social Activist, Raigad district, Konkan,Maharashtra
  • Lawrence Surendra, Environmental economist, Mysore
  • LS Chawla, President, Indian Doctors for Peace and Development
  • Meher Engineer, ex-Professor of Physics, Bose Institute, Kolkata
  • Mushirul Hasan, Director, National Archives of India, former vice-chancellor, Jamia Millia
  • MV Ramana, Physicist, currently at Princeton University
  • Navroz K Dubash, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi
  • Nikhil Desai, Energy economist and environmentalist, Ahmedabad
  • Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Activist, Rajasthan
  • Nirupam Sen, Former Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations
  • Pamela Philipose, Director, Women’s Feature Service
  • PM Bhargava, Former Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
  • Praful Bidwai, Columnist, Nuclear Affairs Analyst
  • Rajeev Bhargava, Director, Centre for Studies in Developing Societies, Delhi
  • Ramachandra Guha, Anthropologist and Historian
  • Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, National Professor of Pharmacology
  • Ritu Menon, Feminist publisher, editor and writer
  • Romila Thapar, Historian, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Sadanand Menon, Art Critic and writer, Chennai
  • Sanjay K Biswas, Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • Satyajit Mayor, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore
  • Satyajit Rath, National Institute of Immunology, Delhi
  • Seema Mustafa, Columnist and former Editor, ‘The Sunday Guardian’
  • SG Vasudev, Artist, Bangalore
  • Shabnam Hashmi, Activist, ANHAD
  • Sonia Jabbar, Writer and activist
  • SP Shukla, Former Member, Planning Commission and Finance Secretary, GoI
  • Subodh Gupta, Sculptor and artist
  • Sudhir Chandra, Historian, Baroda university
  • Sudhir Chella Rajan, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
  • Sudhir G Vombatkere, former Major General, the Indian Army
  • Sujata Patel, Professor of Sociology, University of Hyderabad
  • Sujatha Byravan, Molecular biologist and safe food campaigner, Chennai
  • Surendra Gadekar, ANUMUKTI, Vedchi, Gujarat
  • Sumit Sarkar, Historian, Delhi
  • Suvrat Raju, Physicist, Harish Chandra Institute, Allahabad
  • Tani Bhargava, Social Activist, Delhi
  • Tanika Sarkar, Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Vandana Shiva, Ecofeminist and writer-activist
  • Vineeta Bal, Immunologist
  • Vinod C Khanna, Indian Foreign Service (Retd)
  • Vishnu Bhagwat, Former Chief of Naval Staff, Dapoli, Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra
  • Vivan Sundaram, Artist
  • Zoya Hasan, Political scientist, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi