Protests mount against Indian nuclear plant

SAKHRI NATE, April 24, 2011 (AFP) – In the busy Indian fishing village of Sakhri Nate, it’s obvious what the locals think of the plan to build the world’s biggest nuclear power plant just across the creek. “If the government does nothing, at least 5,000 fishermen and farmers will go to Delhi and protest,” he added. “Say No To Nuclear Power. We Don’t Want To Get Sick,” reads one slogan in Hindi on the side of a tarpaulin-covered shack selling sweet tea and sugary snacks.

Chalked on a wall around the corner is a message for the French company that has signed a $9.3-billion deal to supply the plant’s first state-of-the-art pressurised water reactors.

“Areva Go Back,” it says simply in English.

Opposition to the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project runs deep in this part of the Konkan region of western India, whose people have earned a living from fishing and farming for generations.

As with many in the hard-to-reach coastal area 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Mumbai, 45-year-old fisherman Abdul Majid Goalkar’s argument is well-rehearsed.

At least 5,000 people work on about 600 boats, bringing in 50 tonnes of fresh fish, prawns and squid every day, he says. If the plant is built, he