From the Women of Koodankulam: a letter to the sisters of India and the world

Dear Sisters,

We hope this letter finds you all well.

We also hope you remember us- the women of the tiny coastal village of Idinthakarai, closest to the famed Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. We have been silent for many months, not because a sense of failure engulfed us after the Supreme Court verdict that permitted the Nuclear Power Plant to be fully operational.

Update from Koodankulam struggle:

A grand anti-nuclear public meeting was held on September 10, 2014 at Idinthakarai from 10 am to 5 pm to honor the memories of Anthony John of Manappad, Rajasekar of Koodankulam, and Rosalin and Sahayam of Idinthakarai, who lost their precious lives in the struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP). This day also happens to be the second anniversary of the police atrocity that was unleashed on the peaceful, nonviolent protesters at Idinthakarai, and the third anniversary of the intense phase of the anti-Koodankulam stir.

Leaders from various political parties and organisations participated in the meeting.

Our Demands:
[1] Don’t build the 3rd and 4th units at the KKNPP!
[2] Institute an independent scientific inquiry on the 1st and 2nd units of the KKNPP that are fraught with irregularities, scandals, corruption, shoddy, substandard parts and scores of technical problems!!
[3] Facilitate a national popular debate on Indian government’s nuclear policy!!!

Report and pictures courtesy: Amirtharaj Stephen

We have been silent because we were involved in many activities that provided the base for raising more relevant questions and doubts that the Nuclear Power Plant and also further deals that our country is making has brought to the fore. Through the intense days of our incessant struggle, we have realized a terrible truth- governments may change, leaders will vary but the attitude of this country’s ruling centre towards Nuclear Energy and establishment of Nuclear power plants in environmentally significant areas where human communities depend for life and livelihood remains static. This calls for more concerted and vigilant coming together of all peoples groups against the anti-people, anti-nature Nuclear Policy in the name of development and interests of the people.

Today is the 1120th day of our struggle in this thatched pavilion at Idinthakarai near the Lourde Matha Church which has become our second home and to which many of you have come with your concern and support. This is a day etched forever in our minds, because this is the day 3 years back when we lost dear brother Sahayam and 2 others to the harsh police attack on our peaceful protest. The tears in the eyes of Chellama, Sahayam’s sister and his wife and young children have not dried. This is the day when we realized that our sisters have been taken away, among them the ill and week Rosalin.

Today in an extremely somber event, some of us walked the streets of our village with drums to the homes of Rosalin and Sahayam and lit lamps that we carried back to the stage where the program was on. We walked in silence by the seas shore where waves crashed on the shore and sun sparkled on the waters. We looked back at the yellow domes of the Nuclear Power Plant and wondered of the Units are truly operational, if hot and radiated waters from the plant are contaminating the life giving oceans, whether the lobsters and fish we were catching have radiation in it…who will answer our doubts?
We are overwhelmed today by the presence of friends from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi who are here to support us. We are impressed that the message of our struggle has reached a level that many political parties are not able to ignore or avoid. We know our leaders and friends are making the P-MANE as a struggle to be a model of how a People’s Movement can hold on against such a large force for so many days with no dilution or compromise. That is our strength. All the speeches made by our supporters stressed on this aspect of steadfastness, fortitude and perseverance for which we feel grateful.

We reiterate the need for
1.A transparent evaluation of the status quo of the KKNPP now- are the units 1 and 2 functioning? Is electricity being generated as per the viable levels? Have all the safety standards being compiled with?

2.A total scrapping of Unit 3 and 4which is in the offing.

This is all we ask for , as we reckon with the burning fact that we are still close to the nuclear domes. Our children play and our fishing boats bring in the oceans’s priceless wealth that burn the hearths in our homes. Babies are born and children are growing up. We till the soil and plant vegetables, our goats and cows graze here…life is going on as usual here.
We invite you to visit us and be with us. We request you to share our dreams and fears. We still do not get adequate safe drinking water, we still do not have good transportation facilities, a suitable hospital or a good road- nothing has changed for us, except that fear has increased. If establishing fear and anxiety in the minds of common people like us is the talisman of development, then that alone has been achieved ever since KKNPP became “operational”

Please join us soon

With regards
Sisters of Idinthakarai

Anitha.S in conversation with friends in the village on s
Sept 10,2014

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