SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Why Do People Oppose Nuclear Power Projects in India: The Story of Protest Movements at Jaitapur and Kudankulam

20220708 - Ajmal
Dr Ajmal Khan A.T, (Charles Wallace India Fellow SOAS, 2021/22)

Date: 8 June 2022Time: 4:30 PM

Finishes: 8 June 2022Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B103

Type of Event: Seminar


Post-colonial Indian state started its nuclear programme by establishing the Atomic Energy Commission in 1948 and the Department of Atomic Energy in1954 under the direct supervision of the office of the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Since then, India has had gigantic projections of energy from nuclear power. However, even after seven decades the Indian nuclear establishment remains incapable of producing more than 3% of the total energy generated, from 23 nuclear reactors across the country. On the other hand, the protest movements against nuclear power projects have emerged wherever they were proposed, under construction and in expansion. Among these, two major protests were those against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in the state of Tamil Nadu, southern India, and against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power project in Maharashtra, western India. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Kudankulam and Jaitapur, Ajmal Khan demonstrates the trajectory of the protest movements, and argues that they emerged on account of the growing understanding and awareness about nuclear power, its inherent vulnerabilities, and the situated perceptions of risks by the fishers, farmers and other locals. However, in Kudankulam, protests did not endure long as the state eliminated challenges in the process of setting up the power projects, though fragmented oppositions continued. In Jaitapur, the opposition has already completed a phase and the protest movement is expected to intensify as the project progresses. Ultimately, Ajmal Khan argues that the everyday experience of the state in the context of protest movements constitutes the nuclear state.


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