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Peter Marshall | Demotrix

Tamil Solidarity, CND and Kick Nuclear protested at the Indian High Commission calling for the Koodankulam nuclear project to be shut down, the Indian nuclear programme to be ended and a stop to alleged brutal police repression of protests in India.

The London protest was part of an international day of protest against the power plant in Tamil Nadu, India, along with other protests in India, Malaysia, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Also taking part in London were a group of Japanese who protest every Friday against the Japanese nuclear programme outside their embassy.

Last month, protesters against the plant in Koodankulam were were met and stopped by 4000 police; they camped overnight and in the morning were baton charged and a leading activist was badly beaten. Shortly after police attacked the protesters again using tear gas , and a councillor was severely injured.

Media were kept away from the incident, and those already present were attacked, with a TV crew being thrown into the sea, a Times of India reporter having his head broken and another camera crew beaten up. In the evening police raided a local village in a house to house search looking to arrest the leaders of the opposition and vandalising and brutalising women and children. Since then the violence has spread, and police killed a man when they fired into a group of protesting fishermen.

The protesters point out that there are abundant sources of renewable energy in India and call for massive public investment in this rather than nuclear. As well as avoiding the growing problems associated with nuclear power, with the unsolved problems of disposal of extremely long-lived highly dangerous radioactive waste and the disasters like those at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima and near-disasters in Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan and France, this would also make economic sense.

Although the industry argues its new generation nuclear reactors will be safer, the possibilities of failure through human error, accidents, earthquakes, floods and terrorist attacks can never be entirely eliminated. Renewable energy poses few risks and none of the dangers of radiation damage, and also provides far more jobs.

A full-scale renewable energy programme in India could provide millions of green jobs with less hazardous working conditions and decent pay. Nuclear provides relatively few jobs and these may involve grave health risks for those few who are employed.

Nuclear power is promoted by the big energy companies because it makes them large profits, much coming from subsidies from the government or from overseas government support the projects as a part of their aid programme.

Around 30 people came to the protest, and their were speeches in both English and Tamil, chanting of slogans and handing out of leaflets. Banners, flags, posters and placards also let the many leaving work and hurrying past know why the protest was taking place.