November 10-13, 2011
The people of South India have fought long and hard against the two Russian VVER-1000 reactors being built in Kudankulam village in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. The government turned a blind eye to their protests and went ahead with the construction of the plant. Now, as the plant nears completion, the people’s dam of patience has broken. Tens of thousands of people have launched a intense agitation and have gheraoed the plant, demanding that the plant be shut down permanently.
The government of India, its nuclear establishment and several top intellectuals who have sold their souls to the country’s ruling elites have launched a massive propaganda campaign to denigrate the movement. They are claiming that vested interests are behind the movement, and that the plant is necessary for the development of the country. They are claiming that nuclear energy is clean, safe, green and cheap, and is the best solution to meet our future energy needs. They are all lying. They believe that if you lie frequently and with conviction, people will believe you.
NUCLEAR ENERGY IS DEATHLY
Even if nuclear reactors operate normally, their environmental costs are terrible. The process of fissioning uranium to generate heat and produce electricity in a nuclear reactor also results in the creation of more than 200 types of highly radioactive elements. Many of these elements will continue to release radiation for thousands of years. A 1000 MW nuclear reactor contains within it radiation equivalent to that released by 1000 Hiroshima bombs!
The country’s nuclear scientists – who are no longer scientists, but have become paid agents – are claiming that nuclear plants do not emit any of this radiation, and even if it leaks, radiation is safe and not harmful to humans and the environment. They are lying. Even during normal operation of a nuclear plant, small or large amounts of this radiation routinely leaks out into the atmosphere. An even more monstrous problem is the problem of radioactive waste. The two Kudankulam reactors will generate 3600 tons of waste in their life of 60 years, which will remain radioactive for more than 2 lakh years. There is no safe way of storing these deadly wastes for such a long period of time; and so the waste inevitably leaks. The impact of this radiation on the human body is deathly: it causes all kinds of cancer, infertility, premature aging, kidney problems, and several other diseases, and also mutates the reproductive genes – causing all kinds of diseases and birth deformities in future generations. Consequently, people living near nuclear plants will suffer these effects for thousands of years.
The water discharged into the ocean by the cooling systems of the nuclear plant will be carrying a terrific amount of heat. This will lead to a sharp decline in the fish catch in the coastal areas, destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of local fisherfolk. It has happened with coastal nuclear plants around the world, from the USA to India (Kalpakkam and Tarapur nuclear plants).
Nuclear Plants are Accident-prone
And if there is a major accident in the nuclear plant its consequences will be simply devastating. It has happened several times in the past, like the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine (1986) and the more recent Fukushima accident in Japan. The nuclear establishment has been lying about the impact of these accidents, because if the full impact becomes known to the people of the world, it would sound the death knell for the nuclear power industry worldwide. Here are a few facts about Chernobyl: i) More than 100,000 square miles around Chernobyl – twice the area of Tamil Nadu – is heavily contaminated, and will remain so for thousands of years; ii) Nearly 10 lakh people died worldwide due to Chernobyl up to 2004; this number will continue to increase for many generations; iii) More than 5 million people who continue to live in the most dangerously contaminated areas know that they are forever contaminated, that they could get cancer anytime, and that future generations could be born with severe birth defects; iv) Children are the worst affected, less than 20% children are healthy in the contaminated areas, and in the heavily contaminated areas, it is difficult to find one healthy child.
The accident in the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan is even bigger than Chernobyl. Its full consequences will be known in the coming years. So far, nearly 1 lakh people have been evacuated in areas around the damaged plant; they are never going to return to their homes. In the rest of Japan, the radiation leaking from the plant is going to contaminate the soil, groundwater, Pacific Ocean, leading to contamination of vegetables, rice, fruits, fish, milk… Independent European scientists estimate that over 2 lakh Japanese living in the region 200 kms from the plant are going to develop cancers over the next 10 years…
Because of these terrible effects, most countries around the world have stopped building nuclear plants. The US has not ordered a new plant for nearly 40 years now, since October 1973, and Canada since 1978. A majority of countries of Western Europe have banned nuclear power plants. After Fukushima, countries which had nuclear plants, like Germany and Switzerland, have decided to close down their existing nuclear plants too.
India’s establishment scientists are lying about the safety of the Kudankulam reactors. A Chernobyl or Fukushima type accident can happen again, anywhere, in any reactor in the world, and also at Kudankulam, as nuclear technology is a complex technology and is inherently prone to catastrophic accidents.
Alternative Solution to Energy Crisis
Paying such enormous costs to meet our electricity needs is sheer madness, when safe and environmentally friendly solutions exist: maximizing energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources. Through measures such as increasing generation, transmission and end-use efficiency, and elimination of wasteful consumption, it is possible to reduce electricity demand by a whopping 30-40%! If that is done, there would actually be no need to build new power plants for the next few years!! Our future growth needs can then be met from renewable energy sources. Even the government admits their potential to be: Wind Energy – 48,500 MW; Small Hydro Power – 15,000 MW; Biomass Energy – 21,000 MW; and at least 50,000 MW from Solar Energy. The actual potential is much more. Furthermore, while nuclear electricity costs are rising, renewable energy costs are rapidly falling: wind energy is already cheaper than conventional electricity, while solar photovoltaic energy cost is expected to become so by 2015-20.
Why this madness?
In the name of globalisation, for the last two decades, successive governments have been running the Indian economy solely for maximising the profits of giant foreign and Indian business houses – through schemes like SEZs, privatisation of public sector corporations and financial institutions at throwaway prices, allowing them to plunder mountains, forests and rivers for their immense mineral wealth displacing lakhs of people, allowing them to take over education, health and other essential services and mint super profits, and so on. And so, with nuclear power on decline in the West, the Manmohan Singh government is promoting nuclear energy in India – so as to provide foreign nuclear corporations and their Indian collaborators a $150 billion business opportunity. India’s rulers have sold their souls to the devil for a price that would have shamed Faust!
Support the Kudankulam struggle
The people of Southern India are waging a determined struggle against the Kudankulam nuclear plant. They are fighting to defend their livelihoods and environment, and the health of their coming generations. They are actually fighting for all of us, for the people of the entire country. In order to support the struggle of the people of this region, and register our protest against government plans to set up a series of nuclear plants across the country as a solution to the country’s energy crisis, we, the citizens of India, are taking out this Yatra from Madurai to Kudankulam, to be concluded with a National Seminar in Chennai. We demand of the government of India:
1. Scrap the Kudankulam nuclear power project! Scrap all new nuclear power plants!!
2. Phase out all existing nuclear plants at the earliest.
3. Invest massively in energy saving and development of renewable technologies!
Issued on behalf of
Prof. Banwarilal Sharma, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Allahabad; Fr. Thomas Kocherry, National Federation of Fishworkers, Trivandrum; Scientist Soumya Dutta, Delhi; Physicist Suvrat Raju, Allahabad; Researcher P.K. Sundaram, Delhi; Social Scientist Asit Das, Delhi; Scientist V.T. Padmanabhan, Trivandrum; Scientist Dr. Vishnu Kamat, Bangalore; Major General Sudhir Vombatkere, Mysore; Scientist Y. B. Ramakrishna, Citizens against Nuclear Energy (CANE), Bangalore; PUCL activist Arati Chokshi, Bangalore; Debasis Shyamal, National Fishworkers Forum, Kolkata; Activist Vaishali Patil, Mumbai; Neeraj Jain, Lokayat, Pune; Journalist Nityanand Jayaraman, Chennai; Writer-activist A. Muthukrishnan, Madurai; Chennai Solidarity Group; and several more activists from Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.