World Fisheries Day Protest in Koodankulam: MEEENVAR MAKHAL NAMMAL

Anitha S.

November 21st 2012- The World Fisheries Day which is being observed to protect the sea and its wealth, the lives and rights of so many who are connected to and dependant on the vast realm of life. Here too in our tiny coastal village of Idinthakarai on the southern part of Tamil Nadu we observed the World Fisheries Day. We cannot say that it was a celebration because our lives seem to be moving on borrowed time. Like a pendulum of an old clock, our destiny is slowly and painfully ticking from one end to the other. Now the dead date is December 15th– so many times this has been heard. We see a small ray of hope in the Supreme Court verdict which came the day before that has demanded that the State Government gives assurance about mock drills in 40 villages in the vicinity of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Our State heads are muted beyond imagination. But atleast we exist- till now it was projected that there are not so many of us in the area, that there is no cause for fear about safety and so on. Now atleast we are living enough to be taken care of. Though we realise that the safety drills do not assure any safety, we are relieved. It is just a dress rehearsal for the terrible sadistic One Act Play called Disaster in which we are all actors.


This situation has made our observance of the World Fisheries Day more poignant. We all gathered at our dear Samara pandal which sometimes wears a deserted look. Nowadays we take turns street-wise to be there the whole day. Slowly we have gone back to our lives. We go shopping to Koodankulam to replenish the provisions. We have dried the condiments and made fresh masala powders. We have gone back to our beedi- rolling and tailoring jobs that earn some income. We have planted flowering shrubs and vegetables in the new rains. Our men have started going fishing. After all we are Meenvar Makhal. After all we breathe, feel and live the salty world of the ocean. Till now, many of us were not aware that there is such a day as World Fisheries Day which is being observed all over the world by people living by the sea. It is this unique struggle of ours that has made us knowledgeable about the concerns and thoughts of the world. Through the pain and desperation of fighting to live our simple, safe lives, we have gained the strength of knowledge and consciousness about how our lives are connected to the world.

These were our thoughts as we set out today as a procession to Thomayarpuram, a village a few kilometres from ours. We carried a banner proclaiming the day and shouted slogans. We missed Xavieramma, Sundari and Selvi. On Children’s Day, Sundari’s little daughter Shyamili was in the forefront of the group of children who lit candles and prayed for a safe and peaceful childhood. Likewise we were glad that Chellamma whose tears soaked our shores since September 13th when her brother Sahayam lost his life is leading us today with her slogans and enthusiasm. Each one of us seem to be more determined with the vision of a day when the nuclear energy program of our country will be shelved forever and we can lead our lives in harmony with the wind and sun, the waves and soil.

The village of Thomayarpuram had prepared itself well to hold this event there. Amidst slogans and cheering, we listened to our dear brothers speak about the struggle, reiterating the determined effort needed to keep the spirit of resistance going. We stood there with our friends from Koodankulam, Kootapulli, Thomayarpuram and many other smaller hamlets and felt the strength of anti-nuclear movements in other parts of the world pouring in. We then walked to the seashore with the banners and stood waist deep in the waters. The sea seemed calmer, the sun milder and the wind gentle and cool. In a moving gesture of reverence, the people of Thomayarpuram brought in pots of milk and flowers and poured it into the ocean. We realised that the sea is our mother, upon which our lives are so dependant. Were we asking pardon or were we seeking her blessings as the waters turned white with the milk? Many of us were tearful and moved by this. We knew that all Meenvar makhal over the world were by the sea today showing their love, respect, reverence and dependence on the Ocean mother in their own ways. Even places far from the sea were holding programs to support the people of the coast.

We were reassured that we were not alone in this struggle. This struggle for justice and truth, for true development and progress, for a safe and peaceful life. We went over all that has happened in the past years when we started questioning the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Inspite of all the sorrows, losses and suffering, we are proud that we are standing for a cause that has universal relevance and value.

We know we will not surrender- we will overcome. This is our Pledge on the World Meenvar makhal day.

Anitha.S after conversing with the women friends in Idinthakarai


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