Koodankulam: The Present Situation

Dr. S P Udayakumar

KKNPP Unit-1 that has been built with substandard and shoddy equipment and parts has been shut down for two months for “annual maintenance.” It had been shut down earlier in May 2015 also. Nobody knows what exactly is going on there in this “world-class” nuclear power plant that has been shut down 24 times in just about 18 months.

On May 19, 2015 the secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said: “We had removed some components of turbine of Koodankulam unit. Unit I had a problem and could not be commissioned to full power. So the turbine components are being made.”

The nuclear authorities announced that 96 percent of the work had been completed in Unit II, that it would be commissioned soon and that commercial generation of power would begin in June 2014. But nothing has happened until now.

We found out that the Koodankulam authorities had bought 48 lakh of litres of High Speed Diesel (HSD) worth Rs. 26.6 crores just in the year 2013 alone and they had bought almost Rs. 40 crores worth of diesel for the KKNPP, and we asked what was the need for this much diesel in a nuclear power plant. They have not replied until now. On May 14, 2014 there was an accident at the KKNPP-1 and six employees were taken to the Apollo Hospital in Chennai with 75 percent burns. Nobody knows what ever happened to them until today.

When we met with the political leaders of Kerala, we enquired how much electricity was received in Kerala from Koodankulam. “Nothing has been received from Koodankulam so far” was the unanimous reply from most of them.

The erstwhile Manmohan Singh government signed an agreement for KKNPP – 3 & 4 with the Russians by obtaining a special permission from the Election Commission during the last Parliamentary elections. The Modi government has announced that KKNPP – 3 & 4 may cost some Rs. 45,000 crores because of India’s liability act. But when the US President Barrack Obama came to visit India in January 2015, the Indian government bent the liability act to mean that foreign suppliers will not be held liable for any untoward incidents. If the United States is not liable in its nuclear business with India, Russia will also not be liable. Then how come we have to pay Rs. 45,000 crores to Russia?

When we met with Ms. J. Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in September 2011 to discuss about the Koodankulam issue, we pointed out to her that the West Bengal CM, Ms. Mamta Banerjee, had taken a stand against setting up nuclear power plants in her state and we exhorted Ms. Jayalalitha to take a similar stand in Tamil Nadu. She said that Ms. Banerjee could take such a stand because the Haripur plant was in the early stages but since Koodankulam was in the final stages, she could not take a similar stand. Since KKNPP 3, 4, 5, 6 are all in the early stages, the AIADMK government should take a stand in favor of the people and stop the expansion project. The next big political party in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, should also follow suit.

The fact of the matter is the KKNPP units are not at all healthy. The Indian ruling class, the Sangh Parivar and the global nuclear industry are planning to build a “Nuclear Taj Mahal” in India and the Koodankulam project is its foundation stone. If they admitted that the foundation stone itself is shaky, their “Nuclear Taj Mahal” dream will collapse. That is why the Congress party, Modi government, Russian government and the Indian and Russian nuclear establishments are all protecting each other.

No big political party or leader is in a position to ask the above forces why they are playing with the lives of our people. The small political parties and leaders do not have the strength to challenge them in a meaningful manner. In the light of the above situation, only the civil society, anti-nuclear activists and pro-people political parties and movements should stand together and act for nuclear liberation. Otherwise, the future of our children and grand-children will become quite bleak.

Come on comrades, let us create a nuclear-free India!

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai 627 104
Tamil Nadu

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