On 11th March, 2016, a tragedy was fortunately averted at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Gujarat. There was a leak of heavy water from the Unit I of the Plant. This heavy water, which is used to keep the reactions going on under control as well as maintains the core temperature, can lead to disastrous consequences if leaked. When I came across the news of the leak, my greatest concern was what if the operator and the regulator are unable to maintain the reactor core temperature? Would Fukushima repeat in India?

Rupal Jaiswal in action in the centre

Fortunately, they were able to stabilise the reactor and prevent an extreme nuclear accident. The Nuclear Energy watchdog, that is, Atomic Energy Regulatory Bureau (AERB), has labelled the incident as a mere anomaly and at the same time ignored constant requests to answer questions about the issue. An intriguing doubt still persists in the minds of common people like us as to what went wrong at the Plant which caused the leak? The greatest concern is that the incident is the fourth one in just a few years following the fire at Kudankulam Power Station.

When the uncertainty was in the air, I came across an opportunity to pressurise the Government to launch an independent investigation into the Kakrapar leak. I set off as an intern at Greenpeace, Pune at a time when a petition concerning the Kakrapar Leak was doing the rounds in the organisation. This Petition addressed to Mr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Atomic Energy in the Government of India stressed on the need for bringing about transparency and accountability for regulation of nuclear power stations. And therefore, I was given the task of approaching people at various sites in Pune asking for their support and to sign the petition.


As I talked to people about the Kakrapar Nuclear Accident, they came out with many queries such as why hadn’t the AERB already sent a team of experts to the Plant site? Their queries made me research more on the issue and come up with answers to these. Moreover, I gained knowledge of how many of the civilians actually understand the gravity of the accident and think positively of their right to information. It took me a week completing this task and I obtained the support of 103 commoners who were willing to sign the petition.

As I finished the exercise, I had a sense of fulfillment for I was able to broaden my understanding about the Kakrapar Nuclear leak.  And also by lending my voice to the call for an investigation into the accident.

This venture was absolutely new for me and I feel grateful considering how the people at Greenpeace helped me understand the work I was going to do. Getting to work with Greenpeace in this way not only added to my know-how but also provided with me a network of people who are as passionate about the issue as me.


Rupal Jaiswal is a Greenpeace India Intern based in Pune.