Koodankulam Must Be Stopped: Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva’s Statement at the India Gate, May 20, 2012

“I’m also here for solidarity with one of the most significant struggles for the future of democracy in India. I want to salute the people of Koodankulam who haven’t given up in spite of all the terror attacks on them from what has become a militarized state. A very interesting new article has been published in The Economist, which is not a people’s magazine, it’s a corporate magazine. And The Economist says, increasingly nuclear power will become less and less a creature of democracy.”

“And that is why India’s democratic fabric is being assaulted in order to impose nuclear power. The very agreement that has given licence to spread nuclear was an undemocratic agreement that nearly killed our parliament, the U.S. India nuclear deal. And if it wasn’t for purchase of votes, the cash for votes scandal, that agreement wouldn’t have gone through. We then had the Civil Nuclear Liability Act, which pays the costs of liability in case of an accident so that industry can walk away for free like they did after the Bopal disaster.”

“I believe Koodankulam is significant for many reasons. For some sad perverse reason, our government is making a choice for the most backward, most primitive, most hazardous and most crude technologies in every sphere.”

“Energy, we have so much more sophisticated alternatives from renewables, whether it’s biomass, decentralized – Ghandi chose it – wind solar, it wasn’t there in his time. They’re picking nuclear which every country is giving up. Germany stopped it because their people said after Fukushima we don’t want nuclear. And nobody needs any more evidence that this is a dangerous technology than Fukushima. Germany stopped, Italy stopped. France will stop, the country that is highest nuclear power plants, is going to stop under the new President François Hollande. Brazil has announced it won’t go further. Japan has said no more. If every democratic enlightened technologically advanced country is saying no to nuclear, why is India picking this backward technology?”

“In agriculture they are picking the worst option. They have agro-ecology, we have organic, they are picking genetic engineering. And worse, when people with intelligence, information, freedom, rise to educate the government about their rights, and the rights for safety, only the government can say is, this is the foreign hand, when the real foreign hand is Monsanto behind GMOs. And the global nuclear industry behind the nuclear power plants.”

“Sadly our public sector is always there as the face to bring it all in, to make it look like it’s in the national interest. I started my life in the Bhabha Atomic Research Institute. It used to be public sector then, it is no more. Everywhere nuclear is being shut down, we are giving them a red carpet. On our money, they are imposing hazards on us. It’s a double violation of democracy. Because it’s our money that’s being used to build these plants against our will. I really do believe that the assault on democracy that we are seeing in Koodankulam is something that is so serious, that if we don’t stop them here they will do this on every issue everywhere. No citizen will be safe in their home, in their village, in their town.”

“And that is why this appeal to all of you – not to government – to each of us to raise our conscience, to wake ourselves up, to say this country got its freedom with a very long struggle that was nonviolent. That is the path that the Koodankulam activists are following. That’s the path we have a right and a duty to continue following.”

“And to the government I want to say: don’t send psychiatrists along with police. There’s nothing wrong with the people who know about the hazards. If there is an insanity it is at the level of Delhi, and if we need psychiatrists let Nimhans [National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences] come and see why is the mind of the official India gone so bezerk that they cannot make a single sane decision about the future of this country. “

“And so all strength to the people of Koodankulam, and to those who think nuclear is not their business, take this home – read it.”

James George of Envirobeat.com, a US-based environmental reporting agency was at the India Gate in New Delhi on May 20th when Dr. Vandana Shiva released the National Appeal on Koodankulam. Below is the short interview of Dr. Shiva which James took after the release. Envirobeat.com has also published the transcript of Dr. Shiva’s statement at the India Gate while releasing the appeal to the people of India. 

We are publishing it here courtesy Envirobeat.com


Q: “A lot of people propose nuclear power and a solution for climate change, and a lot of people say it is a false solution. And since you’re here I assume you think it’s a false solution as well. What solutions do you like for climate change?”

Vandana Shiva: “Well, the first solution I like for climate change is organic farming. Because I’ve done a book called Soil Not Oil that shows that 40% of emissions comes from industrialized globalized agriculture. The nitrogen oxide, the methane from factory farms, and fossil fuel use. So you can cut 40% by doing good farming the feeds the world, protects the soil, and creates livelihoods.”

“My second preferred solution is renewable energies, decentralized renewable energies, of which there is no dearth. We have far more wind and far more sun than we have uranium. And it is crazy to build an energy plan on an exhaustible resource which exhausts but leaves an inexhaustible waste.”

“My third solution is not to push people out of their homes. Leave them where they have livelihoods. Don’t push the tribals out of their forest. Don’t push the peasants off the land. You’ve got a solution to climate change. You push everyone into a city, you push the poor out two hours away. You’re going to have huge amounts of fossil fuel used just to move people around.”

“So redesigning agriculture, redesigning energy, and redesigning the relation between the rural and urban, you solve the problem and improve society.”

Q: “Could you say anything about the relation between nuclear weapons and nuclear power?”

Vandana Shiva: “Nuclear power started in weaponry. It was designed for war. And any instrument that has its origins in war always has the potential for war.First because the material you need to make bombs, you’re multiplying it though nuclear power, you’re taking uranium and turn it into plutonium. Second by equipping governments and private companies with this potential, in society you spread this potential, that here is a weapon of mass destruction available.”

“This is exactly what happened with fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers came from explosive factories are increasingly used in terrorist attacks. In Delhi in the high court, in Mumbai, in Afganistan. Most of the bomb explosions are from fertilizer bombs. And if a harmless thing called fertilizer can become so lethal, why would nuclear power stay in safe hands, when even in safe hands it is not safe.”

Q: “And Fukushima we had an accident that was unexpected…”

Vandana Shiva: “Fukushima happened in a country which is probably the most rigorous, in terms of technology, in terms of scientific care, in terms of an accountability system. And if it can happen in Japan, Fukushima’s can happen anywhere.”

“The point about nuclear is that accidents don’t happen in any nuclear power plant because of the calculation about your fission material. They happen because a generator stops. They happen because a cooling tower stops. They happen because of small mechanical failures which you can’t predict.”

“But in the case of nuclear, which is a stupid technology because all you’re doing is creating fissionable material, creating radioactive material, using radioactive material, to boil water. The power doesn’t come from nuclear, the power comes from the water. Now there are safer ways to boil water.”

Q: “Who is going to defend that nuclear waste for all those thousands of years?”

Vandana Shiva: “Now the point is, a government that is not able to take care of plastic waste, we have mountains of plastic waste, which is itself destructive to health and the environment, they will keep nuclear waste in the same way. And it has happened, nuclear waste was found, nuclear material was found in a recycling market in Delhi. …if they can’t take care of any kind of waste disposal, they will not take care of nuclear waste disposal.”

Q: “This is a question about the politics – how many people is it going to take to influence policy, is there hope here?”

Vandana Shiva: “One thing is for sure, even conventional elections will be a safety net at this point. Just a change in power to undo the commitments this present government has made. And it won’t be the best of governments, but at least it’ll be a different one. And that’s why the 2014 elections are vital.”



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