The article traces the history of the struggle, using Dr Udayakumar’s 2-part chronology as the foundation. It references online reportage of the events in the struggle, especially the latter half of the struggle.
Roshen is an independent researcher who has been supporting the Koodankulam People’s Struggle.
Roshen can be contacted at [email protected]
In trying to put down the People’s Struggle in Koodankulam, the government and the media have repeatedly asked why the protests started only recently. They conveniently ignore that the struggle is more than two decades old. This article traces two decades of the struggle from 1988 – 2009, when the nuclear deal with Russia was signed. Wherever possible, references to online reports of the event are provided. As the mainstream media ignored these protests, the references are mostly to newsletters, and email updates from those days. Such references are scarce in the early years of the struggle.
The most detailed chronology of the Koodankulam Struggle was written by Dr. S P Udayakumar, in two parts here and here. The present article builds on that by providing references wherever possible and adding other news coverage of the struggle.
November 20: The Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project deal in Delhi.
December 19: The proposed foundation laying ceremony was put off indefinitely due to widespread opposition to the project among the local public. The opponents of the Koodankulam project which included ‘Samathuva Samudaya Iyakkam’ (Social Equality Movement) of Rev. Y. David took out a massive rally at Tirunelveli.
January 11: Another massive rally was held at Nagercoil against the project.
May 1: The coastal march “Protect Waters, Protect Life” held at Kanyakumari was broken up by driving a local transport bus into it. Six fishermen were badly injured in police firing and false cases were slapped on the protesters. [ref 1, ref 2]
August 27: Over 120 organizations representing farmers, fish workers, women, students, environment groups, and representatives of various political parties (except the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxists) organized a meeting in Kanyakumari district. Thomas Kochery of the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) and Dr. Kumaradhas, a local politician, led the Anti-Koodankulam Committee.
April 29: Several organizations and the public demonstrated in Nagercoil against using Pechiparai dam water for the Koodankulam reactors.
January 30: A bicycle rally organized by Murpokku Manavar Sangam (Progressive Students’ Association) and Murpokku Ilaigner Ani (Progressive Youth League) started in Madras and went through Vellore, Dharmapuri, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram and Madurai.
February 10: The rally concluded with a public meeting followed by a cultural program.
Soviet Union Collapsed; Gorbachev lost power; Rajiv Gandhi was killed; and Koodankulam project was shelved.
June 21: Russian Atomic Energy Minister, Yevgeny Adamov, and Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, R. Chidambaram signed a supplementary accord in Delhi to go ahead with the Koodankulam project. Chidambaram told the press that a detailed project report for the construction would be prepared in the next two years and the actual construction work would take another six years after the report submission.
October 18-22: The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) organized a workshop at Nagercoil on Koodankulam and related issues.
December 5: The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) organized a seminar in Chennai (Madras) on “Today Pokhran, Tomorrow Koodankulam” with a lot of activists, journalists, researchers and the public.
January: The National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) organized workshops on the dangers of the VVER 1000 reactors (to be used in Koodankulam) with the help of an Australian scientist John Hallam at Nagercoil, Tirunelveli and Madurai. Several Kanyakumari district residents held individual consultations to initiate a mass movement against the project.
February 21: The Madras High Court upheld release of water from Pechiparai dam in Kanyakumari district to the Koodankulam Atomic Power Plant (KAPP). The annual demand of water at the rate of 10 cusecs a day would amount to nine million cubic meter by which 945 acres could be irrigated.
November 14: The opponents of the Koodankulam project met in Nagercoil, decided to revive the struggle against it, and founded the “Anumin Nilaya Ethirpu Iyakkam” (Nuclear Power Project Opposition Movement). The group started sending postcards to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu requesting him to stop the project.
December 26: The “Anumin Nilaya Ethirpu Iyakkam” (Nuclear Power Project Opposition Movement) organized a seminar at Nagercoil against the Koodankulam project.
January: Several hundred organizations and individuals from around the world appealed to the Indian and the Russian authorities in a well-document sign-on letter to scrap the Koodankulam nuclear power project. Copies of the letter were sent to the Presidents of Sri Lanka and the Maldives also. [ref]
November 10: A broad umbrella organization, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Power (PMANP), was founded at Madurai.
December 2: PMANP Steering Committee met for the first time with a comprehensive agenda.
January 19: One-day seminar was organized by the Madurai Chapter of PMANP.
February 28: A one-day seminar on “Health Hazards of Radiation” was organized at Nagercoil by the Nuclear Power Awareness Committee.
February 29: A few PMANP leaders were shown around the Koodankulam project site by its director Mr. S. K. Agrawal. He said he would share the EIA and other reports as soon as he came back from his Mumbai trip.
April 26: A one–day fast at Kanyakumari Collector office (by Nuke Power Awareness Committee).
August 30: The Assembly Assurance Committee Chairman, Mr. C. Gnanasekaran, MLA, said Committee members appealed to Koodankulam authorities to allay the neighboring villagers’fears in a public meeting and their suggestions in order to obtain TNPCB consent.
November 9: PMANP Conference Planning meeting was held at Koodankulam. Some 100 people attended the meeting and several committees were constituted.
January 25: The PMANP Awareness Conference was held at Koodankulam. [ref]
January 30: An NAPM rally and public meeting was held at Nagercoil under the leadership of Medha Patkar. [ref]
January 20: A one day hunger-strike was held at World Social Forum, Mumbai by PMANP.
December 5: The Sunday Leader talks about the protests against the nuclear plant. [ref]
January 1: Ranjit Devraj writes in the Inter Press Service about the protests, quotes Udayakumar [ref]
June 4: Ranjit Devraj again writes in the Inter Press Service about the protests in the wake of the Tsunami, quotes Udayakumar [ref]
October 6: Protests at the public hearing arranged by the KKNPP authorities [ref]
January 31: The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board was going to hold the postponed public hearing for the Koodankulam nuclear power plants III, IV, V and VI on January 31, 2007; but aborted it due to an upsurge in protests. [ref]
February 15: One day fast against the plant. Some 7,000 men and women and children from 175 fishing and farming villages from Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari district fasted together. Medha Patkar addressed the people. [ref]
March 24: Some 6000 to 7000 people came together for a day-long fast and protest against the Koodankulam nuclear power project at Idinthakarai village near Koodankulam. [ref]
May 13: Dr Sandeep Pandey (Magsaysay award winner) wrote about the people’s protest to Koodankulam [ref]
June 23: The Tehelka, 23 June 2007 in the article “Home, Next to Nuclear reactor” writes about the safety issues that worry the people. [ref]
May 1 –June 27: Save the Coast, Save the Fishers, Machhimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyan, Kutch – Kanyakumari – Kolkata [ref]
September 22, at Nagercoil: The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy organized a one-day hunger strike in front of the Kanyakumari District Administrator’s office at Nagercoil on September 22, 2008
September 29, at Nagercoil: Scores of school children from all over Kanyakumari district, who are members of the Children’s Panchayat, made a representation to the Kanyakumari District Administrator on September 29, 2008.
October 11, at Alatthankarai (Near Rajakkamangalam, Kanyakumari District): The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy organized a one-day hunger strike from 10 am to 5 pm at Alatthankarai village near Rajakkamangalam on October 11, 2008
October 25-28: A 4-day Cancer and Alternative Energy Awareness Campaign in Kanyakumari District was organized to educate the people of Kanyakumari district coastal villages about the harms of nuclear power plants, cancer disease and alternative sources of energy generation.
November 13 at Marthandam, Kanyakumari District: The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) organized a one-day hunger strike from 10 am to 5 pm at Marthandam, Kanyakumari district on November 13, 2008 [ref]
November 21 at Thoothukudi Hunger Strike: The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy organized a one-day hunger strike in front of the Thoothukudi District Administrator’s office on November 24, 2008 [ref]
June 4 – 6: A national convention on the “Politics of Nuclear Energy and Resistance” was organized in Kanyakumari [ref]
October 1-2: In Delhi, a rally of National Alliance of Anti-Nuclearization Movements was organized. [ref]