Letter addressed to Honorable Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, and Dr Selvi J. Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

We write to express our deep concerns regarding human rights and environmental violations around the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in south India.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan SIngh

More than 300 people have been on hunger strike in protest against the construction since May 1st, and a relay strike continues since last year. Several hunger strikers have been admitted to hospital, and other protesters threatened with arrests.[1] The Indian government has reacted to the protests by deploying thousands of police and paramilitary forces in order to commission the reactor in a military style operation.[2] This will have serious consequences for the life and ecology of the whole of peninsular India, as well as the international reputation of India as the world’s largest democracy.

Non-violent protesters are being intimidated, harassed, imprisoned, and falsely charged.[3] We understand that from one police station alone, charges have been brought against more than 50,000 people including about 6,500 for sedition and ‘war against the state’ in the last eight months;[4] and that approximately 24,000 people have returned their voter cards in protest whose families have later been denied their ration cards for essential provisions including food.[5] The villages around the plant are placed under a prohibitory order under Section 144.[6]

We believe that these draconian measures are not in the interests of a democratic country such as India, and immediate amends should be made to drop these charges and impositions. In a country that has led the world as to non-violent protest which has had enormous impact in South Asia as well as countries such as the USA, South Africa amongst others, we appeal to you to not denigrate the legitimacy of such movements.

We recommend that the nuclear power plant be halted because:

  • The construction violates the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Guidelines as Koodankulam is in a tsunami and earthquake prone region which has also experienced small volcanic eruptions and is affected by water shortages.[7]
  • It is also in violation of the mandatory requirement for construction of fresh water reservoirs which are essential in case of a nuclear accident. This is significant, because fresh water is the main remedy in the event of a nuclear emergency. One of the main factors for the severity of major nuclear accidents – such as at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima – was lack of fresh water.[8]
  • Mandatory reports on the safety of the construction are being withheld from the public and the media.[9]

We urge you to:

  • Withdraw sedition and ‘war against the state’ cases amongst other false charges filed against members of Koodankulam People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy who have been protesting non-violently and that Section 144 be lifted from the region.
  • Ensure that international safety regulations with respect to the above points are stringently followed.
  • Ensure that all reports, reviews and information related to the nuclear plant are made transparent and accessible to the public.

People’s basic human rights and environmental safety procedures in the construction of a major nuclear power plant have been abused. Paying short shrift to these mandatory procedures can have mammoth consequences of global proportions.

We fully appreciate that energy needs and security are of a priority for a growing economy and implore that alternative measures be investigated and invested in, rather than resorting to nuclear power plants in ecologically unsound circumstances.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party);
John McDonnell MP (Labour Party);
Jeremy Corbyn MP(Labour Party);
Mary Glindon MP (Labour Party);
Paul Flynn MP (Labour Party);
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England;
Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam;
Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group);
Kate Hudson (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament);
Estella Schmid (Campaign against Criminalising Communities);
Miriam Rose (Foil Vedanta)

 


[1] ‘Anti-nuclear protest gathers steam again’, May 5, 2012, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-05/madurai/31585720_1_kknpp-waste-generation-and-management-kudankulam-nuclear-power-project and ‘District administration imposes Section 144 in Idinthakarai’, May 10, 2012, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main52.asp?filename=Ws100512Koodankulam.asp; Urgent Action Alert: Koodankulam Protesters Face Imminent Arrest , Amnesty International, May 11, 2012, http://www.dianuke.org/urgent-action-alert-koodankulam-protesters-face-imminent-arrest/

[2]‘ Anti-nuke protesters get support’, May 11, 2012, http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/article3406748.ece

[3]Koodankulam Protests are Fully Justified: Prashant Bhushan’ (Senior Lawyer, Supreme Court of India), April 1, 2012,  http://www.dianuke.org/koodankulam-protests-are-fully-justified-prashan-bhushan/; Amnesty International Alert, March 22, 2012, http://ua.amnesty.ch/urgent-actions/2011/12/367-11/367-11-1?ua_language=en

[4] Human Rights Watch Report, May 11, 2012, http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/11/india-end-intimidation-peaceful-protesters-nuclear-site; ‘In Koodankulam, 107 FIRs against 55795 people, of them 6800 charged with “sedition” and/or “waging war against the State”’ http://khobordar.com/?p=591; ‘Eminent Indians Speak Out Against Harassment of Anti-Nuclear Activists in Koodankulam’, March 5, 2012, http://www.dianuke.org/eminent-indians-speak-out-against-harassment-of-anti-nuclear-activists-in-koodankulam/

[5] ‘Anti-nuclear activists launch 3 campaigns against KKNPP’, May 9, 2012, http://www.newkerala.com/news/newsplus/worldnews-17309.html

[6] ‘Anti-nuke protesters get support’, May 11, 2012, http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/article3406748.ece; ‘District administration imposes Section 144 in Idinthakarai’ May 10, 2012, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main52.asp?filename=Ws100512Koodankulam.asp; ‘An Urgent Appeal to the Conscience of Nation on Koodankulam’, May 15, 2012

http://kafila.org/2012/05/15/an-urgent-appeal-to-the-conscience-of-nation-on-koodankulam/

[7] IAEA Nuclear Safety and Security, http://www-ns.iaea.org/standards/documents/default.asp?s=11&l=90&sub=10 , ‘How Fukushima is relevant to Kudankulam’, March 8, 2012, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2971209.ece; ‘Kudankulam’s fate will decide India’s energy policy’ , May 12, 2012, http://www.theweekendleader.com/Causes/999/interesting-deals.html; ‘DNA investigations: Kudankulam’s lurking dangers’, February 28, 2012, http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_dna-investigations-kudankulams-lurking-dangers_1655987-all; ‘Kudankulam: expert group says liability issue beyond its scope’, December 1, 2011, http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article2675869.ece; ‘Open Letter to Indian PM, Authorities, http://www.transcend.org/tms/2012/05/open-letter-to-indian-pm-authorities/

[8]Violating Letter and Spirit: Environmental Clearances for Koodankulam Reactors’, MV Ramana and Divya Badami Rao, Economic and Political Weekly, 2008

http://princeton.academia.edu/MVRamana/Papers/405418/Violating_Letter_and_Spirit_Environmental_Clearances_for_Koodankulam_Reactors; ‘Water balance sheet of Koodankulam Nuclear power plants (kknpp)’, VT Padmanabhan, R Ramesh, and V Pugazhendi, Economic and Political Weekly, 2012, http://www.dianuke.org/water-balance-sheet-of-koodankulam-nuclear-power-plants-kknpp/; ‘Starting Koodankulam reactor without sufficient backup water would be fatal’, October 29, 2011, http://www.dianuke.org/starting-koodankulam-reactor-without-sufficient-backup-water-would-be-fatal/; ‘What Is Illegal At Koodankulam: Protests or The Reactors?’, March 23, 2012, http://www.countercurrents.org/dn230312.htm

[9] ‘Disclose Kudankulam nuclear reports, CIC tells govt’, May 1, 2012, http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Disclose-Kudankulam-nuclear-reports-CIC-tells-govt/Article1-849098.aspx; ‘PMANE Constitutes an Expert Panel for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project’, November 3, 2011, http://www.dianuke.org/pmane-constitutes-an-expert-panel-for-the-koodankulam-nuclear-power-project/