Hasty Commissioning of Koodankulam is Against People’s Interests

Sandeep Pandey

National Alliance of People’s Movements, Lok Rajniti Manch (People’s Political Front), Socialist Party

Contact: ashaashram@yahoo.com,
0522-2347365, 09415022772

Indo-US Nuclear Deal was first attempt by the Indian government to open up its nuclear establishment to the outside world. It was only after approval of IAEA that India was officially allowed to do business with the NSG countries in nuclear materials and technology. But the agreement to set up a nuclear power plant in Koodankulam with Russia predates Indo-US Nuclear Deal and hence was done outside the internationally accepted non-proliferation regime in an undemocratic manner. This is also the first time the scientists of DAE are dealing with an unknown technology and hence they have to rely on Croatian scientists to carry out the inspections. One wonders what would happen in the case of some accident. Would we have to wait for Russian or Croatian scientists to come and tell us how to handle the calamity?

Ms. Jayalalitha must show the same kind of sensitivity towards her own people as she is presently demonstrating towards the Tamils of Sri Lanka. She has forced the GoI to raise the matter at UNHRC. For the roughly fifty thousand people living in Idinthakarai, East and West Vijaypathi, Thillaivanamthoppu, Avoavaioapuram, Kuttapanai, Kuttankali, Ovari, Periyatalai, Koodtalai, Perumanal, Kuttapulli, Kudankulam, Vairavikinaru, Chittikulam and Thommyarpuram it is a matter of their human rights violation when they are kept in dark about the implications of setting up a nuclear power plant in their neighbourhood. The government must ensure that people receive the Site Evaluation Study, Safety Analysis Report, a fresh Environment Impact Assessment report, Inter Governmental Agreement on liability with the Russian government, etc. The people also want training in disaster management and evacuation exercise to be prepared for the worst. They also want to know how the radioactive waste is going to be disposed. The PM will appreciate that any ‘thinking’ people would like to have this information. If a nuclear power plant was going to come up in a neighbourhood where PM lived even he would have liked to be informed of all the consequences of such a plant for the health of his family members. The people need to be assured about the hydrological, geological, oceanographical and seismological issues which might impact their lives and livelihood, which for most of the people here is fishing. But instead of treating people with respect which they deserve in a democracy they have been slapped with cases of sedition and waging war against state. The movement has remained so peaceful till date that even police have not been able to provoke the protestors like in some of the other peaceful movements around the country. That there has been no violence in this movement so far is a unique feature of this movement and the credit goes to fisherfolk of Tirunelveli. The government must withdraw all the false cases and release two of the activists still in jail, Satish Kumar and Muhalam.

The PM has also claimed that the Indian nuclear plants are safe because none of them had had an accident so far. The truth is opposite. Almost, all nuclear power plants run by DAE, like Kalpakkam, Narora, Kaiga, Kakrapar, Tarapur have seem some accident or the other. Can we forget the fire in Narora, or the flood at Kakrapar, or the spilling of heavy water at Kalpakkam? It has been just sheer luck that none of them went out of control.

Finally, the attack on school run by Meera Udayakumar needs condemnation as well as attempts by some fundamentalist groups to give the anti-Kudankulam struggle a communal colour. The nuclear radiation will not distinguish between a Hindu and a Christian. The impounding of S.P. Udayakumar’s passport and filing of false case against him for beating Panchayat President’s husband are examples of desperate unethical attempts of repression by the government. The government should demonstrate the same dignity with which the movement has been carried out and respect the democratic right of people to protest peacefully.

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