Farmers, landless workers, fishrfolks and others from Tootikudi, Idinthakarai, Tirunelveli and Koodankulam in Tamilnadu; Fatehabad, Gorakhpur in Haryana protested today at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi opposing various nuclear power plants across the country. The dharna was joined by the members of  Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and peace (CNDP), National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), All India Students Association (AISA), SUCI, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Indian National Social Action Forum (INSAF), Delhi Solidarity Group, Friends of Koodankulam Anti Nuclear Movement, Lok Raj Sangathan and other social organisations from Delhi.

The dharna was addressed by Tarun Mandal, MP Lok Sabha; N D Pancholi, PUCL; Kavita Krishnan, CPI-ML(Liberation); Anil Chaudhury, CNDP; S Raghvan, Lok Raj Sangathan; Bhupindera Singh Rawat, NAPM; Gopal Krishna, Toxics Watch Alliance, physicist Suvrat Raju and others.

Tarun Mandal, MP (SUCI, WB) said, “energy needs of this country is not dependent on the nuclear energy, it is a sinister consipracy of the government with the American and European Corporations who want to sell their expensive nuclear reactors to us. Governmetn can’t escape responsibility by saying limits of coalition politics. People of Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Fatehabad and many other places have made it amply clear that they don’t want nuclear energy. How can government say that Fukushima like situation will be averted in our country. No body can control natural disasters.”

Thol. ThirumavalavanValavan, MP (VCK, Tamilnadu) who have supported the struggle against Koodankulam projected for many years now said the lives of  people of this country are important and not the nuclear energy. If people will die then who will use this electricity. Government can’t risk one group of people’s life and build nuclear reactors like Koodankulam and give electricity to others. We demand immediate scrapping of these projects. Communities know what is best for them.

Speaker after speaker lent support to the demands of the movement and also said that it is a concern shared by everyone and not only in the places where these plants are coming. Movements, rights groups and general populace is concerned about the hazard nuclear energy poses to life, livelihood, environment and everything.   struggles across the country today have highlighted some important local issues as well as generic risks with nuclear technology and they need to be addressed :

  • Nuclear power projects will displace large number of people and threaten
  • the livelihoods in surrounding areas. The fisherfolk in Koodankulam,
  • Jaitapur and Mithivirdi, the mango and cashew cultivators of Jaitapur and
  • the farmers of Haryana and MP are faced with these challenges.
  • The proposed plants are coming up in coastal regions and areas where
  • ecological balance is already under threat as govt’s own reports admit.
  • Environmental clearances for these projects have been obtained by
  • undermining standard norms and procedures.
  • Some of the proposed reactor designs are new and untested. Areva’s EPR
  • has run into trouble in Finland with delays, huge cost escalations and
  • objections raised by safety regulators.
  • Nuclear industry in India has been known for their gross negligence of
  • safety in the past. Not only is the Indian nuclear establishment unprepared
  • to handle a large scale accident, it cannot be trusted to operate properly
  • and safely such large-scale facilities given their experience chequered
  • with inefficiency, accidents, unaccountability, non-transparency.
  • The nuclear power expansion will put huge burden on the Indian exchequer
  • as not only nuclear power expensive, the imported reactors are going to
  • cost exponentially more. Also, the government has exempted nuclear
  • suppliers from liability and in case of accidents; the financial burden
  • will fall on the people.
  • India’s energy needs can be better met with decentralised energy
  • production through abundant renewable sources.

And then, are some general problems with nuclear energy itself:

  • Nuclear Power is inherently unsafe. While nuclear accidents have very
  • large-scale and long-term consequences unlike other industrial accidents,
  • even in the normal operation of reactors, workers and local population is
  • exposed to radiation which causes diseases such as cancer, thyroid and
  • leukaemia in long-term.
  • Nuclear waste is a problem that has no solution. Substances like
  • plutonium remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. India has
  • nothing more than an ad-hoc policy on nuclear waste.
  • Nuclear power is not a solution to Climate Change. It leaves substantial
  • carbon footprints in uranium mining, transport, and construction of
  • reactors.
  • After Fukushima, most countries have ordered a phasing out of nuclear
  • power, underlining the inherent dangers.

The demonstrators submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister and asked him to take note of the demands of the people resisting and must immediately halt construction and scrap the nuclear programme.

Anti-Nuclear protest | Against Kudankulam N-plant | Photos India | – hindustantimes.com