Last week I heard Vandana Shiva speak in New York City about the undemocratic behavior of the nuclear industry and the Indian Government and their forced imposition of the building of new nuclear power plants in regions throughout India where landowners, farmers and local governments are strongly opposed to the construction of such plants.  Since March 11, 2011, and the nuclear disasters in Fukishima, opposition to nuclear power in India has been on the rise.

Against the will of the general public and local governments in India, plans for nuclear plants have been moving full steam ahead.  There are plans for new nuclear power plants at Haripur (West Bengal), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Madban (Maharashtra), Pitti Sonapur (Orissa), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) and Kavada (Andhra Pradesh).

In her talk in NYC last week, Shiva described in detail the corrupt actions of the nuclear industry in India.  She spoke about the Jaitipur region, where there are plans to construct the largest nuclear plant ever built in history. In order to do this, the nuclear industry has “grabbed” land forcibly from local residents and dismissed local governmental resolutions against the building of the new power plants.  In protest, local governmental figures have resigned from their posts, mass protests have taken place, protestors have been fired upon by police, and farmers and others have been killed.

Democracy?  Not according to Shiva.

In discussing nuclear power, and the abuses going on in the attempt to force new plants on her people, Shiva spoke a bit about her own history as a nuclear physicist.  As a young physicist, Shiva said, no one discussed the dangers of working with or using nuclear power.  It was her physician sister’s questions about the medical safety of the technology of splitting the atom that made Shiva stop and think about her work with nuclear radiation.  When Shiva fully studied the process of creating nuclear power and its effects on human health, she gave up her career as a nuclear physicist.

It dawned on Shiva: why would anyone want to dig up uranium, split the atom, and create the most dangerous substances on earth, to boil water?  There are so many safer, cleaner and more cost effective ways to generate energy.  What about the sun? Geothermal? Wind? Ocean energy? Biofuels?  Scientists know we can do it with renewables–so why endanger all life on earth with more nuclear waste–the most dangerous substance(s) known to mankind and for which there is no means for safe disposal.

As of this week, there is good news on the anti-nuclear protest front in India.  I’m sure Shiva is pleased for her country.  In Koodankulam–127 people fasted for 12 days, supported by a huge general strike and hundreds of thousands of protesters every day of the strike. The result: the Indian government has agreed not to start up the nuclear reactor in Koodankulam. This is actually the second nuclear plant in India which has been stopped by the general public.

The government says the start up is merely delayed, but the people running the protests and hunger strikes say they will never give up and if the government tries to start the reactor, the strikes, protests, and hunger strikes will begin again. These protests show the power of the people when they utilize acts of civil disobedience to demand their environmental and human rights.One more very important thing to note about the success of Koodankulam protests: women are playing an important role in the success of anti-nuclear activism in India.   I’m sure Shiva is smiling about that.  Shiva knows how important women are to the environmental movement in India and throughout the world.To read more about women and the anti-nuclear activism in India click here.

By Heidi Hutner.  To read more about me go to: Ecofeminist and Mothering Ruminations.
Article Courtesy: Terrasphere