The people of Koodankulam have been peacefully protesting against the planned nuclear power plant there being pushed by the government flouting its own norms on safety, environmental safeguards and emergency preparations.

In the wake of news and rumors regarding leaks and technical problems in Koodankulam leading to long delays and anxieties, more than 50 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement (also attached as a Word file) calling for an independent review of safety issues at the two Russian-built Koodankulam reactors.

The signatories include social scientists Romila Thapar, Deepak Nayyar, Tanika and Sumit Sarkar, Rajeev Bhargav, , Manoranjan Mohanty, Achin Vanaik, C Rammanohar Reddy, Jairus Banaji, Zoya Hasan and Kamal and Anuradha Mitra Chenoy; former senior civil servants SP Shukla, EAS Sarma and MG Devasahayam; scientists PM Bhargava, Sanjay Biswas, Naresh Dadhich, MV Ramana and Vineeta Bal; environmentalists Ashish Kothari, Rohan D’Souza and Himanshu Thakkar; and artists and art critics including Vivan Sundaram, Sheba Chhachhi, Geeta Kapoor and Sadanand Menon, and many other scholars and social activists.

The list of signatories appears at the bottom.

Eminent Citizens’ Statement on Koodankulam

There are disturbing reports that the commissioning of the first Russian-designed Koodankulam nuclear reactor, under construction amidst mass protests in Southern Tamil Nadu, has been further delayed because of serious technical problems. The commissioning has been postponed fortnight after fortnight, without explanation from the Department of Atomic Energy or Nuclear Power Corporation of India, and with a bland assertion by DAE secretary RK Sinha that “no major issue” lies behind the delays. This lack of transparency has fuelled rumours that there have been leaks and other mishaps at the plant, which have resulted in physical injuries and even death to workers, and a ban on the entry of contract labour.

The rumours have caused great insecurity and panic among the local people, who have long expressed their apprehensions regarding the reactors’ safety, which the project authorities have failed to assuage. The authorities have followed a policy of non-transparency, and refused to make public the Site Evaluation Report, Safety Analysis Report and the Emergency Preparedness Plan. The plant has undergone substantive design-related, regulatory and administrative changes over two decades, which would alter its environmental impact. It would only be prudent to have an independent enquiry into its safety and environmental impact before commissioning the first reactor.

An immediate impartial enquiry by independent experts into Koodankulam is an urgent necessity, pending which the reactor should not be allowed to attain criticality.

SP Shukla

Vivan Sundaram

Geeta Kapoor

Sadanand Menon

Romila Thapar

Praful Bidwai

Achin Vanaik

Admiral L. Ramdas

Anil Chaudhary

P K Sundaram

Wilfred D’Costa

Ambrose Pinto

Abey George

Abhishek Shrivastava

Sheba Chhachi

Beena Sarvar

M V Ramana

Harsh Kapoor

Sumit Sarkar

Tanika Sarkar

Thomas Kocherry

Rajeev Bhargav

EAS Sarma

MG Devasahayam

Arati Chokshi

Sudhir Vombatkere

Ashish Kothari

Rajni Bakshi

Nityanand Jayaraman

VIneeta Bal

Vimochana Forum for Women’s Rights

Kamal CHenoy

Anuradha Chenoy

Kavitha Kurungati

Dilnavaz Variava

Naresh Dadhich

Sheetal Balani

Rohan D’Souza

Himanshu Thakkar

Usha Jayakumar

Aruna Rodrigues

Mohan Rao

Deepak Nayyar

Rammanohar Reddy

Manoranjan Mohanty

Jairus Banaji

S P Shukla

Maneesha Sethi

Sanjay BIswas

Zoya Hasan