Koodankulam: Of Bolts and Keys

Anitha Sharma

Anitha S. is engaged in ecological education with children in many parts of Kerala especially the coral islands of Lakshadweep. Since last few years she has been documenting the perceptions and experiences of women in the environmental movements ( anti-industries, anti-dam, anti-waste dumping, anti-deforestation) in Kerala. She is also co-ordinating a network called Tree Walk in her home city of Thiruvananthapuram for trees, safe pedestrian spaces and footpaths and space for small vendors when big wide roads usurp all common spaces in the name of development.

Here is her documentary video on Koodankulam women:

We are women who live very close to the sea in the village of Idinthakarai in Thirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. Never do we lock the doors and gate of our houses when we go out. We are so sure and confident about the safety and security of our houses.

Tomorrow after many years,we are going to lock and bolt all the doors and gate of ourhouse and get out. All the houses will be locked up tomorrow. The more than a century year old Church in our village that faces the Pillayar kovil will have its usual Sunday service after which we will move enmasse to the KKNPP.(Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant). We will carry our children including babies. Our pregnant daughters will walk in the hot sun with us.

Because we have not been listened to. Our plea and demands have been sidelined. We do not feel safe to be in this comfortable village of ours anymore so close to the power plant.

We understand that we, our bodies, the food we eat, our animals and plants, the water we drink will soon be contaminated. Can you say it will not be? We know enough to say that you do not need a radiation Chernobyl/ Fukushima style to carry radiation burdens. The yellow and red chimneys will soon start spewing the invisible radiation, the word for which in Tamil is Katirveezcha- that which falls as rays! Imagine the warm rays of the sun falling on us in surplus giving us such free and easy source of energy…yet we do not want it.
Now friends from the Tsunami colony, the closest to the Power plant called. They say there are police all over. This morning about 400 fully armed police conducted a drill running and marching through the peaceful lanes of the colony. They said that children and all others are petrified. We heard that 14 companies of police and 4 companies of Rapid Action Force and one company of Special Task force ( 120 members) are around us. So it looks as if we will not be able to get out.

Instead of being arrested and jailed in Thirunelveli or somewhere far away, our village itself has become an open jail. All roads to us are blocked with sand bags and assault rifles. Expecting us to get out and other villages to come in through the sea and reach the dyke, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has been deployed there.

We really do not understand what they are scared of. Are they more bothered about the safety of the plant? Do you think the “poor illiterate” ( as we are referred to ) people like us will harm the plant? If we were capable of this could we not have done it earlier.We have been raising questions, requesting to address issues, demanding to be reassured for 25 years. But to no avail. Please trace the history of the struggle and see if there has been even one instance of provocation from our side. Then why this much threats and display of force? Yes, we are scared but not of the police and the arrests. We are more scared of the consequences of the fuel loading and reaching of criticality of the Power Plant. We are scared more about the safety of our daily life. If all the police who are here today could enter our houses and talk to us and hear us, will we not serve them tea and make sure they are comfortable?

We want our Chief Minister to visit us here and face our questions. We want her to allow us to march towards the source of the problem- the Nuclear Power Plant and place our demands. We want to meet our friends and supporters from all villages which fall within the Risk zone of the KKNPP. Is that something to be scared of?

We are not scared – our vow to raise questions and slogans against this wrong and unclean source of energy that has jeopardized our lives will continue till the last breath of our lives.

Perhaps we may not have to bolt and lock the doors of our homes. But we might be bolted up for ever inside the invisible cloud of the lethal Kathirveezhchai. Please reach this message of peace and hope to the world.

Prepared by Anitha.S after talking to women in Idinthakarai on 8th September 2012


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