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Kaiga Atomic Power Station, Karnataka, India


The Kaiga Atomic Power Station is located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. The plant services India's southern grid and provides power to five states (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Pondicherry) [1] In September 2011, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has announced the plant's expansion plan to add two more units (Unit 5 and Unit 6) to its existing four units. After the announcement local villagers were inspired by the protests against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, the protestors claimed that the plant is threatening their lives as well as livelihood. Just before the decision to set up two more units, officials from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) surveyed the region around the Kaiga plant. They identified 43 villages that should be given away for the plant's infrastructure facilities [4] Fed up with the inaction of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to ensure health facilities and escape routes in case of a nuclear accident within the five-kilometre radius of KGS, people of 44 villages have begun an indefinite strike [3]. Villagers around the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka claimed that the nuclear power plant is a threat to their lives and are protesting against the two new units on Nov 2011 [2] In 2011, inhabitants of 35 villages surrounding the Kaiga plant, alongside activists and elected representatives, gathered at Mallapura Hinduwada to discuss the project. The gathering unanimously resisted the move and sent its opposition to the government [4].

The conflicts and mobilization is still ongoing; to register their strong dissent, affected people of Mithi Virdi, Jaspara, Mandva, Khadarpar and other 50+ villages have organised a massive rally on 23 September 2013 from Mithi Virdi to Bhavnagar (40 Kms), espacially contesting the Government of India's reported move to further dilute the Nuclear Liability Act to seal the nuclear deal with the US government and US corporations. This was allegedly done during PM’s visit to Washington, undermining all democratic and sovereign institutions of India. The Government of India has yet to make its position clear on these media reports and also the opposition seems to share the same policy on the issue as ruling coalition which worries us further. NAPM press release on the matter reports: "To offer a liability playing field to the international nuclear corporations, whose constant decline has been greatly exacerbated by the setback after the Fukushima catastrophe, actually amounts to selling off Indian people’s lives and safety for nuclear profits. We have not forgotten the criminal record of ‘Union Carbide’s now Dow Chemical’ in the Bhopal gas tragedy and the shameless episode of Indian politicians letting the culprits goes Scott-free: both physically and in terms of adequate liability for the horrendous disaster." and it adds: "When Japan has been forced to switch off all its reactors and countries like Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy etc have decided to go nuclear free, it is unfortunate that Indian Government is choosing to miss the historic opportunity to go for sustainable, renewable, decentralised and equitable forms of energy and shun nuclear power which contributes less than 3% of its electricity production."

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Kaiga Atomic Power Station, Karnataka, India
State or province:Karnataka
Location of conflict:Village-Kaiga; District- Uttar Kannada
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Nuclear power plants
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

The power station currently operates two Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). The second of which (Unit-2) began commercial operations on 16 March 2000. Unit-1, which was delayed by a construction mishap in 1994, became operational on 16 November 2000. The facilities fall under the direction of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which operates a total of 14 reactors. Two additional 220MWe PHWRs are currently being constructed at the power station. By 2002, excavations for the reactors had been completed and steam generators for Unit-3 had arrived. Unit-3 is expected to begin commercial operations in March 2007 and Unit-4 should enter service in September 2007.

As of 28 February 2003, the Kaiga Atomic Power Station had produced a cumulative generation of 7,881 million units (MUs) since it began commercial operations. While Unit-1 generated 3,489 MUs of this total, Unit-2 accounted for 4,392 MUs. The PHWRs are not under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards [1]

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of India, Government of Karnataka
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Village Action Committee (VAC) [6], Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik from Goa was also among a few who had voiced their fears over Kaiga recently [6], struggle committee of villagers within five km of Kaiga plant, [5]

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Anti-nuclear activists from Goa are likely to send their representatives to join the protest. Activists from Maharashtra, too, have pledged their support[3]
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsAnti-nuclear activists from Goa are likely to send their representatives to join the protest. Activists from Maharashtra, too, have pledged their support. The protest must be intensified since the NPCIL is planning to set up two more reactor units in KGS [3]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Displacement, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:Protestors do not want to have two more units in Kaiga, particularly after what happened in Fukushima in Japan following the tsunami on March 2011. Most of the west coast of Karnataka is located in the seismic zone III, which has a moderate to normal chances of activity. According to villagers, they have made mistake by allowing Kaiga Nuclear Power plant to be set up in 1982. Public awareness about the threat it may pose was almost zero at that time. But now they do not allow the nuclear dangers to escalate in the place [3].
Protestors also want the road connectivity from each of the 43 villages to the Major District Roads (MDRs). They demand state highways to be built and to keep them in good condition perennially. If possible, it has to be made four lanes like the state highway. All interior roads should be able to take emergency vehicles to every village quickly and safely.
The village chiefs pointed out that the primary right to give permission to any construction lies with the Panchayat Raj institutions.
Local panchyet invited Kaiga officials to the meeting to give details about the proposed units. The officials did not responded the request and did not even bother to attend the meeting. They advised the panchayats not to give permission to any developmental activities with respect to the construction of two new units [4]
Another major demand is the land be acquired by the government at reasonable compensation and a job given to each of the displaced families, on the basis of a report submitted by the Nuclear Power Board in 1986 [5]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Local residents do not have enough means of livelihood because there is no source of employment. The district administration has not permitted the setting up of any small and medium-scale industries in these villages because of security concerns. To supplement their income, most farmers work as wage labourers on the land of upper caste landlords near Yellapur and Malavalli [5].
The Karnataka government commissioned a health impact study in response to the protests. Government as well as protestors is eagerly waiting for the outcome of the study on the impact of radiation on the local population. It is conducted by the Manipal University and the Tata Memorial Cancer Research Institute.
While activists and the plant authorities counter each other point by point, the district administration has kept itself out of the issue. District administration and the State government claims that they have no role to play in rehabilitation as this was a Central government's project [7].

Sources and Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Nuclear Power in India

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Ktaka: Villagers planning to protest against Kaiga N-plant

[1] Kaiga Atomic Power Station

[3] Protest against Kaiga N-plant set to intensify

[4] Protesters oppose plans of second unit at Kaiga Nuclear plant

[5] A shot in the arm for Kaiga protesters

Kaiga-4 achieves criticality

“Kaiga expansion will not be allowed”

Anti N-plant protests reach Karnataka

[7] In Kaiga, villagers raise a different chant

India's 20th nuclear reactor connected to power grid

[6] Now, outcry from villagers near Kaiga N-power plant

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

India's 20th nuclear reactor becomes operational

Indian Government to Investigate Water Contamination

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Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update03/05/2014