Voices from Koodankulam


This is not just about Tamils. It is a national problem.

Jaya Augastan is a fish purchaser whose three kids have married and settled down in others parts of the region. Having worked in Oman for ten years, he now lives with his wife in Idinthikarai. He said to us:

‘When they first came, we were promised jobs but in the end only about ten people got jobs. People who work there come from other states. They talked about building a large hospital – where is it? If it is there is inside the compound and only nuclear people can use it.

I know around the Kalpakkam nuclear reactors near Chennai, they shoot at farmers if they get within 5 kilometres. They will also do this to us now.

NPCIL [Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited] people never come here. We learnt that this was a nuclear reactor from the tv. Radiation they say is from here and there, television etc. but we’re talking about a massive increase. Kalpakkam fishermen used to catch good fish – but not now. There is not much now for them. Kalpakkam is 450 MW. These reactors will be 1,000 MW each.

Police are afraid of coming here because there are so many of us and we will not stand for anything. Men here are soft and yet hard. They will not stand for anything that affects our families or our community. In 1988, 15,000 people gathered in Kanyakumari to protest against the Koodankulam nuclear power project and I was also in the protest. The police opened indiscriminate firing and in that gathering three people were injured.

At first when they first began to build the reactors from 2002, they mentioned nothing about nuclear. They said it was only a power station and that we would all get more electricity. We don’t need more electricity when our health is at stake. Health is most important for us, more than my occupation.

They (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) had sent us leaflets saying that this is a mock emergency drill and if anything should happen in earnest, we would need to evacuate at least 30 kilometres from here. How can you tell 300,000 people to evacuate just like that. There is only one road that leads out of here.

Last August they had these very loud sirens for fifteen days. We couldn’t even sleep at night. The situation got very ‘hot’ afterwards. We were thinking of Fukushima and what the people there had to go through.

Upparwalla Manmohan Singh is a very bad man. Abdul Kalam is very bad because they do not understand that we do not want to live so close to nuclear reactors. They consider us as subhuman. They consider only people who sit with them as human. They say our brains are damaged, that we are mad. Even a 6 year old here would question Manmohan Singh but he doesn’t come. Very kharab – this government, worse than British. They are a colonial agent. Uranium and corruption and waste – how many tons? Where is it going?

In Sri Lanka Tamil people were killed. Here they are also going to be killed

Udayakumar is ‘Dusra Gandhi’ (Second Mahtama Gandhi) – Gandhi ji’s story has come alive again through Udaya. Gandhi went from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. He had a lot of force through people. Softly, softly he built the movement through non-violence. Just like Udayakumar has done.

This is not just about Tamils. It is a national problem. If people were to suffer like this in Maharashtra or in Haryana or in Andhra, we are ready to come to them to help them.

If we need to we will go to jail. There are not enough jail space for 15,000 people. I am ready to die to save my family and people. I have told my wife to look after the house. Lathi (baton) charge should not happen if children and women are there.

From 2010 they kept saying that it’s going to open, that the reactors would be opened. People here have no idea. Because they keep changing their time schedule. They were supposed to be not constructing for the last six months. But nobody knows what really goes on in there as they never tell us anything.

Construction workers in Chettukulam have told me that they use second hand material for the reactors. The reactor could go badak any time.’

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My Main Worries are for my Child, my Family, my People.


Selvi S. is a finance administrator. After completing a BA in History, she now works in idinithikarai. She has one child, a 5 year old boy and her husband is working in the Gulf on a 2 year contract. She spoke to us in person before the police crackdown and later on the phone. She said to us:

We want freedom. We want independence from Koodankulam nuclear power plant. In 2002 when it started we had no knowledge of it then. Only about 5 years go did we realise what it was. We are even closer to the reactors than the Anuvijay township for the nuclear staff. That is about 10 kilometres away and we are only a kilometre or so and can even walk there.

There has not been much coverage in the media and we feel shunned. Journalists are coming here but they are not giving news to the public. They are not telecasting the real news. They are taking the news but not giving it. This time we are angry. This time don’t take pictures of our village if you’re not showing. What they’re talking to us they should be showing. Instead they criticise us people. It gets worse and worse. Only the Dinamalar has presented a fair picture so far.

The PM goes to these foreign places and makes these deals. Even if there is a dog dead on the road there is more concern for it than he has for us.

If they open a nuclear reactor, radiation will attack us. Due to that we can get cancer, problems with pregnancy, effects on children. We learnt this from everything – posters, books, speakers and people just talking amongst each other. We have known for more than 7 years. Before that we were not sure about radiation.

My main worries are for my child, my family, my people. The reactors remind me of horrors. I can see it every day from opposite my front door. Even my child understands radiation. He says ‘Vendam, vendam.’ (We don’t want it, we don’t want it).

Tamil people are victimised. Jayalalitha will do what she does. Sonia Gandhi should be burned. They should put her inside the reactor. Also Manmohan Singh and Narayanswamy. We have heard their views. But government doesn’t even listen to our hunger strike.

We are following Mahatma Gandhi’s ways. We will not take weapons. We are ready to die to save ourselves from the nuclear reactors. We want to protect our generation and the next. If we have to, we will die for it.’

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We are only young but they are trying to ruin our future.

Shoijika, aged 14, is a school girl in the eight standard who lives in the tsunami rehabilitated village adjoining Idinthikarai called Casa. The village was named after a Delhi-based Non-Governmental Organisation that received charitable funds from Canadian churches to aid tsunami-affected villages from December 2004. But in a move that defies all sense, the rehabilitation was to place them almost next to the securitised fence of the power plant in 2006, four years after the two nuclear reactors had been commissioned. She spoke to us before the police siege on the villages surrounding Koodankulam:

‘We do not want the reactor. It scares us. We live so close to it and have to see it every day. It is always there. We are afraid of radiation and how it can affect our health. We are only young but they are trying to ruin our future. We have to fight against it. Everyone here is against it.

We only found out that they were nuclear reactors after we moved here. We found out that it’s dangerous for children. We found out about cancer. Because it is dangerous, we could not sleep properly. We learnt everything from the father and from the teachers at school. We know the songs. I can perform it for you now as we did not get the chance to do it at the rally (on March 15th).

We don’t want it, we don’t want it

We’ll make sure it closes

We won’t move and it’s not going to stay…’
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