Movie review: High Power – scorching rage of nuclear affected people

    By Kashif-ul-Huda,

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    Tarapur Atomic Power Station in Maharashtra is India’s oldest and largest nuclear power station. It has a capacity of 1400 MW units of power but even after 45 years since its commissioning the town of Tarapur that gave the power plant its name goes without power for six to eight hours every day. This was revealed in the documentary movie “High Power” made by Pradeep Indulkar.

    It is not just the promise of 24-hour free power that failed the residents of this town, people who gave up their land were not rehabilitated and legal fight for compensation are yet to be resolved. Meanwhile residents of the town complain of higher incidence of cancer and other diseases because of radiation from the plant. Those who are fortunate to find work at the plant do not have permanent employment.

    India, it seems are sold on the politics of development. The debates over coming Lok Sabha election is about the pace of development, not the course of development. But the word “development” means something entirely different to the people of Tarapur. No wonder then that there was a massive protest in Kudankulam in Tamilnadu or continued protest in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

    One has to watch this movie to understand why the poors, dalits, and tribals who are the supposed beneficiary of development are violently opposed to the “development” projects that leads to their displacement, loss of livelihood, and access to community resources.

    Director Pradeep Indulkar is currently touring the United States with his documentary. After a viewing of his documentary in Cambridge Public Library Indulkar talked about decentralization as one way of solving India’s energy needs rather than setting up a national-level powergrid that is based on across country transmission of electricity. He said as much as 30% is lost during transmissions. Regional grids will be more responsive to local needs and there will not be need to set up mega projects.

    Indulkar didn’t mince words in saying that for people living close to the nuclear power plants, everyday is like Fukishima referring to the accident in Fukishima nuclear disaster of 2011 that released lot of radioactive material.

    Talking to this correspondent after the event, Indulkar said government and its agencies play with words to fool people regarding safety issues of these nuclear power plants. He gave example of Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India, who last year in Pune told a gathering that radiation doesn’t cause cancer but cures it.

    Indulkar who used to work in the nuclear industry said that although US-India agreement shifts most of the liability to India in case of nuclear accident but still nuclear industry is waiting for further concessions before launching new projects.

    High Power won Yellow Oscar in the short film category in the Rio de Janeiro leg of the Uranium Film Festival in May 2013. The film has finally got the Censor Board certification after a battle of one year.