Indian Left and the Nuclear Googly – A.Muthukrishnan

Muthu Krishnan


Muthu krishnan is an activist and coloumnist, based in Madurai

The Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) are a part of the Konkan Bachao Samiti in Jaitapur which has a resolve of protesting against the world’s biggest nuclear complex which is coming up at Jaitapur. This Jaitapur nuclear plant will not only have safety issue’s but it’s going to make extinct the Alphonso mangoes which this konkan region gifts to the whole world in every season. A committee has been formed which has Prakash Karat and Baradhan as its key leaders. The left parties are also part of the protest committee against the Kovvada plant in Srikakulam in Andrapradesh. But the same parties in Tamilnadu have been welcoming the Nuclear Plant in Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. This dual approach is snowballing into a big debate among Anti Nuke protestors across India. It’s as if the Russian reactors are Communist in nature and the French are Capitalist reactors.

The CPIM and CPI have on the record been pro Kudankulam since the protest began 210 days ago in Kudankulam. They have been ridiculing the protest and have been demanding commissioning of the Nuclear Plant at the earliest as they very strongly think that this is the only way out to overcome the power crisis in Tamilnadu.

Both the parties have been writing editorials and continuous columns in their respective party organs Theekathir and Jana Sakthi advocating nuclear power as the only viable option and that Russian reactors were the safest. They also were frequently quoting Abdul Kalam and M.R.Srinivasan to defend their stands. When this issue was raised with comrades of both the left parties, answer were naïve. Our comrades had an intimate bondage with the Kudakulam Reactors as they originated from Russia our Comrades share a great nostalgia with the word “Russia” and this was the profound reason. They further went on to say that Russian reactors were tested ones and Areva was going to install a untested reactor in Jaitapur. Both the parties had spoon fed their cadres that this protest was just orchestrated by the American money against a Russian Reactor.

On March 1, 2012 CPI (M) general secretary G. Ramakrishnan stated that based on former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s recommendations, the Centre should ensure the safety of those in and around Kudankulam and allocate Rs.200 crore for development activities.

Similar to this view CPI TN Seceretary D.Pandian also said that power cuts were increasing, affecting all sections of society. The government should initiate all necessary steps to find a solution quickly and overcome the shortage. The CPI supported the commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. The just demands of the local people, such as providing employment opportunities, should be addressed.

On March 24th The State unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday called upon anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) protestors to give up their agitation, as panels of experts appointed by the Centre and the State governments had vouched for the safety of the plants.

In a statement State secretary of the party G. Ramakrishnan welcomed the State government decision to go ahead with the commissioning of the plants. He requested the local people to extend their support for the functioning of the plants. Mr. Ramakrishnan said that instead of resorting to repressive measures such as filing criminal cases against the protestors, the State government should take steps to allay the fears of people about the technology and safety aspects of the Kudankulam project.

On March 25 th CPI secretary D. Pandian also backed the CM’s decision to support commissioning of the Koodankulam plant and demanded that the entire power generated from it be given to TN. The State should initiate dialogue with protesters and demand that the entire 1,000 MW generated in the first reactor should be given to TN till the power crisis in the State was solved, and he also went further to state that “Their apprehensions are borne out of ignorance. It cannot be cleared,” CPI state secretary D. Pandian said, demanding immediate commissioning of the Nuclear plant. Accusing anti-nuke protesters of “holding the country for ransom” the CPI leader said, “It is a national asset and it must be utilised.”

Earlier D. Raja, CPI leader, too, reacted on similar lines saying, if America-based NGOs are playing a role in Kudankulam, then they should be isolated and action should be taken against them.

Just a few days ago when ten thousands of police forces were moblised by the state against the protestors at the same time CPI state secretary D.Pandian went on the media and said, if u don’t want the Nuclear plant to operate please come take your compensation and vacate this place.

Even at the recent Tamilnadu state conference of the CPIM Prakash Karat went on in full length to say that this issue was a bit complicated to explain. “The CPIM stand was that they were pro nuke vis-à-vis the first reactor in Kudankulam” as that was a contract between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union, and then went on to say that , “We would oppose the other 3 phases which are about to come up in Kudankulam as they were signed by agreements with the new government in Russia which has a Capitalist character and these were pure business deals. CPIM also is against all the reactors which are mushrooming in India as a result of the 123 pact which transformed India as a military partner with US, UK and France”. This dosage has added to the already confused understanding of the party comrades.

Both the state and central Governments are not ready to address the simple question raised by the anti-nuke protestors but are keen in tainting and intimidating the fisher folk with cases and crackdowns in various shades. First they tried to paint a communal portrait, then the Congress brought in the hand of Jesus and now it has replaced the hand with a gun, the Naxal angle. The Government and the Nucleuocracy knows well the answers to the questions But the huge billion dollar contracts and the spill offs are more nearer to them.

VVER-1000 reactors pose many safety concerns. Their operating experience raises questions about the reliability of their control-rod mechanism, which is crucial to preventing a runaway fission chain reaction. In the last couple of years, at Temelin in the Czech Republic and at Kozloduy in Bulgaria, numerous control rods, which are supposed to arrest power excursion or reactor misbehaviour, did not move as designed.

On March 1, 2006, when Kozloduy’s Unit FIVE was operating at full capacity, one of the four main circulation pumps tripped due to electrical failure. As reactor power was reduced to 67 percent of nominal capacity, three control-rod assemblies remained in the wrong position. Of the remaining 61 assemblies, 22 did not move with driving mechanisms. The number of control-rod assemblies unable to scram remains unknown. Control-rod insertion failures are considered serious and lead to a severely degraded state of safety if an accident-initiating event occurs. Kozloduy, Temeling to the almost 10 lakh lives lost in the last 25 years in Chernobly the whole power guzzling world needs to learn lessons about risking lives. But even with so much tragedy lying around the VVER the leftists still tilt to the rhythm of nostalgia.

Adding to the VVER and Russian debate Nuclear Cheer leader Abdul Kalam had stated in this article that only 57 persons died in Chernobyl accident. But on the contrary John Vidal says ”Five years ago, I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; fetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers…. Villages testified that ‘the Chernobyl necklace’ – thyroid cancer -was so common as to be unremarkable”, in “Nuclear’s Green Cheerleaders Forget Chernobyl at Our Peril,” The Guardian, April 1, 2011.

S.P.Udayakumar who leads the people’s non voilent struggle at Kudankulam said in an interview that “Both the CPI and CPM are confused. CPM is anti-nuclear in Jatapur, but pro-nuclear in Kudankulam; they are against nuclear weapons, but are pro-nuclear for energy”. The Leftists still think that electricity is directly proportional to the development of this country.

It’s high time that the Left understands the Jaitapur and Kudankulam are twin sisters of the Nuclear Tragedy.

Join discussion: leave a comment