Mildred’s story – a women’s perspective of the anti-nuke struggle

Prerna Gupta, a Delhi University student with keen interest in environmental and gender issues, attended Koodankulam activists’ press conference in New Delhi earlier this week. Here is a write-up from her after her conversation with Mildred, a leading women face of the struggle in Idinthakarai against the nuclear power plant.

Koodankulam press conference New Delhi on july 7, 2014 - S P Udayakumar, Mildred, Chitranjan Singh and Kumar Sundaram

Koodankulam press conference New Delhi on july 7, 2014 – S P Udayakumar, Mildred, Chitranjan Singh and Kumar Sundaram

In the wake of recent developments in the anti-nuclear struggle, including the May 14 accident in Koodankulam and the leak of the IB report which describes the anti-nuke struggle as anti-national accusing S. P. Udayakumar to be involved with foreign organisations, a press conference was organized here in Delhi’s Press Club of India. The press conference was chaired by Chitranjan Singh (PUCL), S.P. Udayakumar (PMANE), Dayamani Barla from Jharkhand, Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, Kumar Sundaram (CNDP) along with other senior activists.

On the thousand and fifty seventh day of the Koodankulam’s struggle against the nuclear plant, Mildred a senior activists from Idinthakari recalled the history of her association with the struggle. As a part of growing up in the reality of the town which is stone’s throw away from the Koodankulam plant, the anti-nuke struggle has been her earliest teenage romance ever since her mother took her to a protest against the Koondankulam plant, when she was 15. There she witnessed two people getting shot for the struggle and herself got badly injured in the arm. But early wounds it seems only made her stronger.

Marriage, Mildred says only gave rise to fresh fears. The Fukushima disaster reminded them of the devastation they dreaded every day. In their attempt to mobilize people and gain support for their struggle, they have gone everywhere from Chennai to Delhi.

Women, according to Mildred are central for their struggle. She considers women to be the front warriors of this movement because they are also the greatest sufferers. The radiation from the Nuclear plants is known for causing uterus cancer. As mothers and nurturers of the future generations, women keep a far sighted approach. When one thinks of future genrations, says Mildred environmental issues seem of the utmost importance. Therefore the movement will go on for a long time. It will go on till the plant is closed.

Referring to the recent country side bombings near Koodankulam that sought to defame the peaceful struggle, Mildred said that, “the C.M. fund of 500 crores that was handed out to the leaders of Gram Panchayat who in turn gave it to the sand mafias and pro-nuclear lobbies were used by these lobbies to make bombs. But they blame the people of the movement.” They had, claims Mildred gone to the collector office to complain regarding the same but no action has been taken so far.

When asked about the new government and its impact on the struggle, she said before the elections Jayalalitha promised to look into our issue but now even she has turned a deaf ear. The May 14 accident at the KKNPP Unit 1 where six men were badly injured and with 70 degree burns is only an evidence to the negligence of every government towards this issue. However, they met with their MLA Radhakrishnan who assured them that they can meet Narendra Modi in Delhi and put forward their concerns and demands.

Their demand is to not let the Unit 3 and 4 of the plant be activated and to initiate a thorough research into the public accountability of the Unit 1 and 2, which is highly doubtful, said Mildred reinstating the purpose of the press conference, held here in Delhi.




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