Tag Archives: anti-nuclear protest

The Reality at Jaitapur, Mr. Hollande by Anuj Wankhede and Cressida Morley


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French President Francois Hollande is making his first visit out of Europe since he was elected. And he has chosen India as a preferred destination for his visit starting 14th February.

On his radar is to sell Areva’s failed EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) nuclear reactors to India. Even as his own country has neither been able to implement the EPR reactors in France or Finland and nor has the US regulator certified it, the Indian government is eager to set up these reactors in a huge area in coastal Maharashtra – at Jaitapur – a highly bio-diverse region that needs preservation.

The carrot which the French president is dangling is the supply of fighter jets to India on “favorable” terms. The Indian government for want of more and more weapons (and probably with an eye on making some money out of the deal?) is turning a blind eye to the enormous damage this project will cause. Anuj Wankhede and Cressida Morley write about the Jaitapur protestors, who despite all efforts of the French and Indian governments, remain determined that this project will never see the light of day.

The beauty of the Ratnagiri coastline and surrounding area has to be seen to be believed. Any government official from DAE to NPCIL would be crazy to think of destroying or even putting at risk this kind of natural biodiversity. It is already established that Maharashtra state itself does not require any more electricity than is already being produced and the Chief Minister himself is on record as saying that the state will be free of any load shedding by the year end.

So for whom is the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) being built?

Certainly not for the local people, the fishers, farmers and ordinary people whose livelihoods will be destroyed and their lives threatened. The government tells us that nuclear power is needed for ‘development,’ but the people who will be directly affected by JNPP have a very different ideas of what development is and whom it should benefit.

The fishing village of Sakhri-nate, is just a few kilometers by road from the proposed JNPP site – only 3 kilometers as the crow flies. You can see the site clearly just across the sea.

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Slogans such as ‘No nuclear’ and ‘Areva go back’ are painted on walls all around the village and the people against JNPP vehemently say they are prepared to give their lives rather than allow the plant to come up. Recent newspaper reports have shown just how desperate NPCIL is to do a deal with the fishers by raising the compensation for land acquisition to Rs. 22.5 lakh per hectare from Rs.1.5 to 4 lakh announced previously.

But the fishers are adamant…it doesn’t matter how much they are paid when their livelihoods, their community, in fact their very lives are on the line.

Most of those opposed to the plant in Sakhri-nate are fishers but there are people of different professions as well, showing that it is not just a direct concern for livelihood but a much wider fear that JNPP will in fact destroy their lives and community. The activists have detailed knowledge of how the JNPP will affect their lives. For fishers, this knowledge may not be scientific in the academic sense of the word, but every day they observe the sea intimately as their lives literally depend on it. The knowledge that they have gained through long experience cannot be easily dismissed.

The fishing community is concerned that the effluent water used for cooling the nuclear plant – which will be pumped back into the sea at a temperature – at least 5-7 degrees Celsius higher than the natural temperature – will have a disastrous effect on the fish population and their breeding. The Government is trying to assure the fishers that a rise in seawater temperature would not affect the fish, except possibly to make them bigger! Obviously, the fishers are not buying this at all. They claim that the fish that presently inhabit their fishing ground will not be able to live in such a changed environment. Even if these fish are able to swim away to other areas of the sea, shellfish, for example cannot escape so easily and will surely perish. Perhaps, different species of fish will come to the area due to the raised temperatures but this also represents an unknown for the fishers. In any case, they refuse to believe that the environment will simply remain the same with such enormous quantities of heated water being pumped into the sea. As one fisher put it, even a refrigerator emits heat which can affect the surrounding air temperature and living things, so how can the government claim that an entire nuclear power plant will have no impact on the environment?

Others have expressed fears of terrorism and natural disasters.

The cliffs surrounding Sakhri-nate, directly opposite the proposed site for JNPP, are spectacular to say the least. The solid rocks here weather the eternal beating of the sea waves. Yet, this rock was split wide apart by lightening and electrical storms that are common in the area. It’s easy to imagine similar lightening bolts falling just a few kilometers away, and the damage they would do to a nuclear reactor. It would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions indeed.

The Reality at Jaitapur - Crack in rockEspecially after Fukushima, the fear of accidents is very real and no amount of government assurances has convinced the activists that JNPP will be totally safe. The level of distrust towards the government is very high and palpable. Activists claim that the government contradicts its own reports and does not disclose ‘inconvenient’ information besides they feel the government is least concerned about the locals.

Rather than the government, Sakhri-nate fishers would rather believe their fellow fishers from another part of the state – Tarapur. They have travelled to nearby Tarapur which as the site for the first nuclear reactor to be built in India and they have seen what the nuclear power plants have done to the fishing catch. The fishing community at Tarapur is practically out of business due to the low catch and the enforced security ring around the plant which forces them to take long detours into the sea and which entails huge costs on diesel – not to mention the time spent.

At Tarapur, the locals were told 40 years ago that the Tarapur NPP was a matter of national pride. The local community and fishermen in that area gladly agreed to its construction, fully believing government assurances that the fish and environment would not be affected and that they would be adequately compensated. They have since been thoroughly betrayed and have warned their fellow fishers near Jaitapur to fight against JNPP – lest the same fate befalls them. The information received by the Sakhri-nate fishers from the Tarapur fishers is based on their bitter experiences and a shared understanding of the sea and the environment, both of which are integral parts of their lives and livelihoods. Who would you rather believe—the actual experience of your peers or the theoretical science of distrusted governments?

Ideas on development: worlds apart

The rift between the local community, dead-set against the NPP and the government, equally determined to build it, is not just about differing information and mistrust. There is a more fundamental difference in worldview between these two parties. While the government’s idea of ‘development’ focuses on achieving ambitious electricity generation, attracting foreign capital and making more and more ‘goods’ for an ever-expanding market, the fishers of Sakhri-nate have different ideas.

The Reality at Jaitapur - no-nuclear

As one local explained “We are already developed. We don’t need anything more; we have full employment in the village. Even disabled or illiterate people have jobs, mending fishing nets etc. We have enough electricity; all we ask is that the government allows us to pursue our livelihoods. We have enough money to live well now, as fishing is a lucrative industry, but if we loose our livelihood, we will have nothing.”

Others said that if development was needed at all in their village, it should be in the form of increased educational facilities – including vocational schools – so that their children would get better employment opportunities – if they choose to. There are also calls for growth which minimizes environmental destruction and which compliments local industries such as food processing factories for the fish and mangoes, also produced in large quantities in the Jaitapur area. The already present ice factories, which provide ice to pack the fish so they can be sent to different parts of the country, are another obvious example of this type of development.

It would seem that the government has underestimated the level and type of knowledge and information that the local community has or even tried to understand their concerns – leave alone address them. This is not to mention the high income and living standards enjoyed by the fishermen who do not want this so called lop sided “development” at such high risks.

But most of all, the official model of development is being called into question: Why should large-scale industrial projects be encouraged, in this case a foreign-funded project that carries a risk of unimaginable destruction, and why should local communities be required to sacrifice their lives and livelihoods for lighting up city malls while the locals who are being affected by the project will still have only erratic power supply – just as is the case at Tarapur?

The Reality at Jaitapur - Areva go back

(The views expressed in the article are the personal views of the authors and not those of any organization or institution.)

Reproduced from DiaNuke.org

 

 

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Stop Kudankulam fuelling, lives are at stake!


By Dr. A .Gopalakrishnan (a past chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board)

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

The government, through its Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Nuclear Power Corporation Limited (NPCIL), and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is racing to bring the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, Unit-1 (KNPP-1) to full-power operation at the earliest. The questions predominantly troubling the conscientious public today are simply these: Is the Kudankulam Unit-1 ready for introduction of nuclear fuel assemblies into its core (‘fuelling’), having fully completed all the safety modifications and additions recommended by AERB’s Post-Fukushima Committee to Review Safety of Indian Nuclear Power Plants? What other mandatory, pre-fuelling safety-related tasks such as conducting proper emergency drills in villages within a 30 km-radius of the reactors remain? What are the serious implications to public safety if NPCIL and AERB move forward with fuelling activity and bring this reactor to its full power of 1000 MWe in the current state of inadequate and incomplete safety status?

On some of the glaring defaults of the current actions of the DAE, NPCIL and the AERB vis-à-vis KNPP-1, there are three Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) currently before the Supreme Court of India. The next hearing of one SLP that seriously pleads for stopping fuelling activity is set for September 27. As early as on March 26, 2012 , a writ petition (no. 8262) was filed in the Madras High Court for a direction against the DAE, NPCIL, AERB and others to implement all the recommendations of the AERB’s Post-Fukushima Report before fuel-loading is started. In response, the AERB counsel informed the court , “— that before initial fuel loading is done, the compliance of all the requirements under Annexure-8 (of the AERB report) will be ensured by the AERB and it is only after its satisfaction any direction (for loading fuel) will be given—” . Subsequently , the High Court decided to reserve its orders on August 2, 2012 , pending detailed judgement to follow.

n the interim, since the court had not imposed any stay on actions by NPCIL and AERB, chairman, AERB, used this opportunity to issue a clearance for initial fuel loading of KNPP-1 on August 10 after reviews by their internal committees. The original petitioner then filed yet another writ petition (no. 22253) in the Madras HC on August 13, challenging the fuel-loading clearance given by AERB, even while 11 out of the 17 safety recommendations of the AERB’s Post-Fukushima Report still remained to be implemented. AERB, in reply to this writ petition, submitted two affidavits, first one on August 18 and another on August 22.

he post-Fukushima evaluations by an independent AERB committee, headed by a past chairman of the AERB had recommended 17 safety upgrades in Annexure-8 of its report. The committee, however, did not sort these on the basis of relative importance, urgency or priority. The sense you get from this report is that all 17 corrective steps are equally important and AERB must insist on all of them being fully implemented and tested before fuel-loading is permitted. This is consistent with the affidavit earlier submitted to the Madras HC by Mr R. Suresh Kumar, counsel for AERB, “ — that before initial fuel loading is done, the compliance of all the requirements under Annexure-8 will be ensured by the AERB and it is only after its satisfaction that any direction will be given—–” .

However, in their affidavits to the same court on August 18 and 22, AERB reversed its stand by stating, “—recommendations in Annexure-8 of the Post-Fukushima Report were considered (by the internal AERB committees) during review of the application for fuel loading submitted by NPCIL. The review indicated that KNPP-1 has adequate safety measures against external events — In order to further enhance safety , as an abundant measure , some additional safety enhancements proposed by NPCIL were reviewed in depth and accepted for implementation in a phased manner.”

“Based on the review and resolution of NPCIL submissions, AERB agreed for short-term (less than six months) and long-term ( less than two years) implementation of the Post-Fukushima recommendations from the date of the fuel-loading clearance”.

Ultimately, the Madras HC did not agree with the plea of the protesters for full implementation of Annexure-8 safety steps before fuel loading is initiated and the matter is now being heard by the Supreme Court. Even as the Supreme Court hearings are going on, the NPCIL and the AERB are already loading the nuclear fuel into KNPP-1.

What the AERB has done is a total volte face of its earlier stated positions in the Madras HC, and contrary to the spirit and recommendations of the AERB Post-Fukushima Safety Evaluation Committee.

This has happened because the DAE, NPCIL and AERB appear to be under the direct control of the PMO on the Kudankulam issue, and none of them dares to take any decisions on their own.

The PM, is for months accused in the national and international press for India’s policy paralysis, the dwindling performance of the power sector, and for substantial slippage in the execution schedules of many major projects. During his last two visits to Russia, the PM promised expeditious completion of KNPP-1&2. The local protests at site have put a monkey wrench into his promises and timetable. PM and his PMO consider their face-saving to be more important than the possibility of imperiling the lives of people living near KNPP-1, and appear to have clearly instructed the DAE-AERB combine to rush through with commissioning the plant. The subservient DAE and AERB seem to be complying with his directions.

In this hurried approach to starting the KNPP-1 project, what essential safety precautions are the NPCIL and AERB tossing by the wayside? As per current plans, the reactor will be operated at least for the first two years or more at the full power level of 1000 MWe, without its primary containment being assessed for its ultimate load-bearing capacity; without the availability of a portable diesel-powered unit with sensors and instrumentation to monitor essential safety parameters in case of a total blackout; in the absence of a set of mobile self-powered pumping set for emergency area use; without rectifying the serious inadequacies in instrumentation for independent monitoring of plant status during major accidents; and without the addition of mobile back-up power units like air-cooled diesel sets. Why each of these actions should take as long as 24 months to complete is unimaginable, but these actions have to be indeedexpedited, since they are all essential for mitigating the consequences of a major accident.

The AERB committee has also strongly recommended the urgent installation of an additional seismically-qualified 8,000 cubic-meter capacity back-up water storage tank as an alternate source for use under emergency situations where such actions as injection of borated water into the core and into the spent-fuel pool, charging water into the steam generator secondary side, etc will require excessive amounts of water. The already provided emergency water-storage facility has not been seismically-qualified and may not withstand moderate earthquakes. This anomaly has to be urgently rectified through analysis and repair. This existing storage was also found to be inadequate in holding capacity , for removing decay heat for a period of a minimum one week . This too is to be rectified. In case of a beyond design basis accident (BDBA), the emergency operating procedures to be used are still to be formulated and documented, to help impart training on BDBA to the operating staff.

It is more than 16 months since the Fukushima accident occurred and NPCIL has not even started planning for these procedures. Each of the above tasks is put in for “short-term” completion, namely, within the next six months. I doubt whether a satisfactory completion of many of these tasks can be achieved in six months, each may take more like one year at least.

As it stands, the important point to note is that NPCIL and AERB are NOT going to carry out any of the short or long-term tasks mentioned above, before the reactor is fuelled and brought to 1000 MWe power level. This approach is totally unacceptable from the safety point of view. Whether these 17 safety corrections are implemented or not, the probability of a major accident will remain more or less the same. But, ALL these safety corrections are necessary to ensure that the mitigation of the consequences will be far more acceptable with the corrections implemented than without, and these safety corrections will provide a distinctly safer environment for populations around the KNPP-1. Therefore, ALL the above-mentioned long-term and short-term safety corrections recommended by the AERB committee must be completed before the reactor is fuelled. Whatever fuel so far loaded into the core can be taken out safely and stored for future use.

The author Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan is a past chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

Reproduced from DNA

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Kudankulam: Antinuclear Fishermen lay siege to Tuticorin port


Written by Sam Daniel, Edited by Mala Das

September 22, 2012

Anti-nuclear protesters lay siege to Tuticorin port
Anti-nuclear protesters lay siege to Tuticorin port

Protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant continue unabated with thousands of fishermen having laid siege to the port at Tuticorin today, demanding the closure of the controversial plant.

Nearly thousand fishing boats have blocked entry to the Tuticorin harbour, which is situated around 60 miles away from the nuclear power plant. The loading of nuclear fuel, which is on at one of the reactors at the Kudankulam plant, has not in the least dented the determination of the protesters, all fishermen hailing from the districts of Tuticorin, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli – where the plant is located.

“Fishermen in Kudankulam and surrounding districts are protesting over the last 400 days, but the government is not listening and we will have to resort to these kind of protests,” said a fisherman. These fishermen are worried that the plant, once commissioned, will destroy their livelihood. Subash Fernando, Spokesperson of the Agitation Committee, says, “Once the plant is commissioned, the radiation from it would disqualify our catch for export to the European market, and even if nuclear fuel is loaded, it’s not too late to stop it”.Two expert committees appointed by the government have found the plant to be safe, dubbing public fears unfounded.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who initially supported the cause of the movement, later did a U-turn, citing that the project could bring relief to the state which is reeling under a severe power shortage. Around a lakh and half people, who live in the vicinity, are opposed to the plant. “If India believes in democracy, the government should listen to the people.

If Japan could have a Fukushima disaster, imagine what could happen in India which was also hit by a tsunami not long ago,” said a villager. Presently, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition that challenges the go-ahead given to the nuclear plant. Petitioners cite that the plant is yet to incorporate 11 of the 17 safety recommendations made by a government task force after the Fukushima disaster.

However, the atomic energy department claims these are only enhanced safety features which would be implemented in phases. At Idinthakarai – ground zero for the protests – just three kilometres away from the plant, around four to five thousand villagers are continuing their protest demanding the closure of the plant. Two weeks ago, around 10 thousand people marched towards the plant in a bid to lay siege; police opened tear gas and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd.

A non-bailable warrant has been issued against SP Udhayakumar, the face of the movement, as he failed to honour a court summon. He says “the government is trying to project them as the most wanted terrorists”. The Kudankulam power plant is the first nuclear project to near completion after the Fukushima disaster. Some countries like Germany have decided to turn away from nuclear energy and the international community is keenly watching how India handles the rising opposition to the project..

Reproduced from ndtv.com

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Protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant continue unabated with hundreds of fishermen having laid siege to the port at Tuticorin today, demanding the closure of the controversial plant.

Around 200 anti-nuclear activists were detained today in Tuticorin, while they were heading to Idinthakarai, the venue of protest against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. The activists were set to join the villagers who have buried themselves neck-deep in sand along the shore, demanding a halt to the preparations for loading of fuel into one of two nuclear reactors at the controversial plant.

Around 1000 villagers near Kudankulam, including women and children, buried themselves neck deep on the sea shore protesting against the upcoming nuclear plant. Over the last one year they have been demanding closure of the plant alleging the project would destroy life and livelihood. Two expert committees have found the plant to be safe. The Supreme Court too has refused to stay nuclear fuel loading.

Hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters forming a human chain stood in sea waters for the second day today demanding halting of preparations for fuel loading into the Kudankulam nuclear reactor in Tamil Nadu.

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Leaping Into Death


 By S. ANITHA

17 September, 2012

Chellamma celebrated and felt the touch of waves and sun that day as the whole village took to the sea in a mighty protest against the death knell being rung loud by the KKNPP. The other day the bells of the Lourde Mary Church in Idinthakarai also rang in unison for the struggle of people to come to a fruition.

Chellamma remembered her childhood when as the only sister of 3 brothers, she would sit on the shore of the clean beach and watch the boats come and go. There were no stone pathways ( Pulimuttu) into the sea then and no yellow domes looming nearby. Growing up was not an effort. Marrying into the same village, she also cherished the memory of when illicit liquor brewing was eradicated in the village by the women, including her mother and aunts- how this helped wipe away the tears and fears of many women. The streets of the village leading to the sea was the familiar landscape through which Chellamma walks peacefully home every day.

Life was really tranquil, a bit of it still reflecting on her clear face. . Till the yellow domes started appearing as a concept. Promises of jobs came in which attracted some. There were reports of much land being take away in Koodankulam village with little or no compensation. She knew that the march in 1988 to Kanyakumari had to do with the coming up of this new development. The injuries that the bullet created in a villager stands testimony to the first questions that were raised against this. Later the name of the development got known- the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Little did she know this would ring the real death knell in her house too.

“ For us this sand is precious, said Chellamma picking up a handful of sand in the Samara Pandal.

This place , the wind and waves, the sun and heat are sacred. We will not let go of this. Is it the Government who made this? It is ours and we want to live and die here”

When asked why she disapproves of the Nuclear power plant, the usually sing song soft voice of Chellamma turns a bit hard:

“Because of what it does to the woman’s bodies. We know that this will make our wombs unfit for growing a healthy baby. Will we be able to give birth to deformed babies? Can we bring them up with our tears? Is it not better we do not give birth to such babies?”

The day passed. Chellamma came back from home refreshed and all set for another day in the pandal. Her clear face and clearer thoughts made one want to share thoughts with her.

“ My whole family is with me.My brothers are fishermen.But they give a lot of time for this. They tell me too that we should be here till the Anu ulai closes.”

She wondered about the future of the place. This was mid August 2012.

“ We do not want money. We are not orphans. As long as you have health and your spine and limbs are fine, nothing can scare you. Can we let the ocean die? Can we let this land where we were born die? Does this belong to the Government? Only we have the right to live here. We are asking only for the right to live and is it so impossible a wish?”

A month after, when in Idinthakarai again for the innovative Jala samarpan day ( Sept 12th) my eyes searched for Chellamma and her quiet wisdom. But I did not see her. Maybe she has gone home to bathe and wash. We took leave that evening from the villages, our minds heavy with the news that Sahayam, a 35 year old fisherman who was shocked out of balance by the Coast Guard Aircraft was battling with life. Whose father, husband, brother, son and friend would he be? Who all would lament his passing away at so young an age for no fault of his? The day darkened over the windmills and the red lights of the KKNPP started shimmering and flashing.

The next day brought pictures of Sahayam’s family with grieving relatives. And in its midst I saw Chellamma beating her chest and crying. Why is she there lamenting along with Sahayam’s family? Whom does one ask in this time of crisis/ Or am I mistaken. Assailed by these fears, I travelled the next day again. And then the ordeal of going to the house of the deceased. Beyond the Pillai ar temple through the charactertistic alleys of the coastal hamet, my feet refused to move fast. I was afraid to face Chellamma. I asked Melrit in whispers on the what “ What is Sahayam’s wife’s name?” Dreading to hear the familiar name and description , I was ashamed to be relieved that it was not Chellamma. But then as we drew close, I heard her crying out loud “ Oh God, why do this?”

Sitting next to her on the sand, holding her dehydrated body, I heard her whimper “

I played so much in the sea that day. Look at these children – they too were in the waters the whole day. Would I have played so and laughed loud if I had known that in a few hours I would cry like this?”

The group of women from Kerala sang their soothing prayers.

“God, little did I know that while I played and leaped , my brother, my own blood and flesh was next to me bleeding. Leaping to death”

We did hear that someone had fallen and was being rushed to the hospital. How will I forgive myself? Now I have only all of you as brothers and sisters. These young children have only you as caretakers. We are orphans”

Next to her sat the mother of Sahayam,her grief pouring gently through the wrinkled cheeks.

96 hours have passed since Sahayam’s life ebbed out of his young and healthy heart. 96 hours of incessant lament and tears for Chellamma, his wife, mother and children. 96 hours of no food and water, no bath or sleep. How many more hours to pass before they bring his lifeless form here asks many as they sit watching his picture and that of the one who lost his life near Manapad.

What a price to pay for India’s Nuclear Industry to flourish alleging that some foreign funded external agency is working with these people and spreading rumours and fears! Why then is the system cordoning them off with police and barricades on land, with coast guard ships and patrolling vehicles in the sea and old and dilapidated aircraft from the skies? If they are poor and misled folks, why fear them and control them with tear gas and rifles , with lathis and verbal abuses? Why chase an unarmed crowd caught unawares on the sand with arms and threats? Why not dialogue with them and answer their demands and requests? Sahayam would soon be an insignificant number in the statistical records- “one die as people stand in the sea protesting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant” . But for Chellamma, he would be a dear brother, his mother a son, his kids a loving father and for his wife a caring husband. What a price to pay for a Nuclear Industry that adds to India’s GDP?

Conversations with Chellamma-
Aug 15th, Sept 4,5 ,Sept 16th 2012

Recording of Chellamma’s perceptions in “Daughters of the Sea- Voices from Koodankulam /” Satish.K and Anitha.S on www. dianuke.org.

Update from PMANE

The dead body of 42 year old Sahayam Francis, who died of shock when the Indian Coastal Guards flew the plane at a very low altitude, was brought to Idinthakarai after the procession through some of the coastal villages on Monday evening. At 6.20pm, the Sahayam’s body was taken on a procession throughout the village and was kept at St Lourdes Matha Church premises. The entire village gathered at the church for the mass led by Bishop Evan Ambrose Peter, after which his body was buried. Nearly 10 parish priests from different coastal villages were present during the mass.

After the mass, people gathered there took an oath to stop commissioning of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project.

Images from Sahayam’s funeral taken by Amirtharaj Stephen

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Reproduced from Countercurrents.org

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Kerala and Tamilnadu Police Block Kerala Intellectuals’ Antinuclear March to Koodankulam


Kerala-Kudankulam march led by Sugathakumari, Sara Joseph and K Ajitha.
Kerala-Kudankulam march led by Sugathakumari, Sara Joseph and K Ajitha. Photo: Deccan Chronicle

On Sunday, September 16, at Inchivila on the Kerala-Tamilnadu border, Kerala police stopped over 200 Kerala antinuclear protesters from proceeding to Kudankulam. The protesters led by prominent writers, environmental and social activists, responded to a call for support from the fisher folk of Kudankulam.

At Parassala, Malayalam poetess Sugatha Kumari inaugurated the March organised by the Kerala Anti-Nuclear Support Group. She said the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant should not be left to the local villagers living around the nuclear plant. She recalled how the people of Kerala stalled the nuclear plant planned in Peringom, in North Kerala.

Writer Sarah Joseph addresses the Kudankulam Solidarity march at Parassala near Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. Photo: The Hindu

Writer Sarah Joseph pointed out that opposition to the nuclear power plant was gaining in strength with the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission coming out against it. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s suggestion that the emotional and mental health of the agitating local villagers ought to be checked had forfeited its validity.

The stopped marchers led by poet Sugathakumari, writer Sarah Joseph, Vicar-General Fr. Eugene Pereira of the Thiruvananthapuram Archdiocese, former diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar, and social activists K. Ajitha, B.R.P. Bhaskar, C.R. Neelakantan, Vilayodi Venugopal, Gandhian P. Gopinathan, and N. Subramanian, staged a sit-in on the highway.

Even after the police action, 60-odd activists of the Kerala Anti-Nuclear Support Group, which organised the March, proceeded to Kudankulam by bus. However, Tamilnadu police stopped them at Anchugramam. Even so, a small group went to Nagercoil and attempted to reach Kudankulam in a private bus.

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Women’s Voices from Kudankulam: Are We Not Alive?


 by S. ANITHA

AUGUST 31, 2012

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

As I sit here in my home village of Idinthikara watching the hot sun light up the waves rolling onto the shores, I think of the news that has hit the world today about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. All of you must have seen the news that the Madras High Court has given the go-ahead for the KKNPP.

Koodankulam protesters - Are We Not Alive?
Koodankulam protesters – Are We Not Alive?

When we carried the dead body of democracy and burnt it in the outskirts of our village on Aug15th, 2012, little did we realize that so soon we would witness the real death of democracy. As this last nail is being tightened on our lives, we realize how insignificant has been our voice. But this has only strengthened our vow to be together.

As I think aloud with my friends gathered here rolling beedis and contemplating our future, I wonder who can give clearance without getting the consent of all of us who live so close to the plant. For over 2 decades, we have waited for some form of consultation with us about issues and doubts that have troubled our minds. Apart from generalized assurances with statements like It is Safe and There will be no problems, we have not been given any answers. Are we not still living here and are we not expected to live here? Or do we not exist or have become transparent like the people of Hiroshima who just vanished as they walked along the streets?

As we talk this afternoon with the wind blowing over the Neem trees and bending the branches of the drumstick tree, it is our minds that are getting loaded-

Anxious Fishermen and the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant
Anxious Fishermen and the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant

We realize while cleaning the sardines and mackerels that came into our houses this morning that the Environmental Clearance given for the KKNPP is not appropriate or legal. What study can vouch for the safety of the KKNPP? Has the scientific team who did the study ever asked us about the fishes and other animals that have provided us with life for generations? Do they know the seasonality of the species, the variations in currents and tides, the changes in the seas as seasons change? Do they mention the rich wedge bank offshore that is home to many species that sustain our lives? What have they said about the abundant catch of prawns and lobsters? Who can decide that 45 degree centigrade or 35 degree centigrade is the permissible heat in which life forms will be safe? Will the water not contain substances with radiation? Is there a limit called permissible for radiation? Even children know that in the case of radiation, any dose is an overdose.

We look at our homes and the sea avidly- because we are afraid this will all become an Exclusion zone as we have seen in Fukushima and Chernobyl. We might have to go away from here gathering all our belongings. Where will we go and how will we survive? We know of no life away from the sea. Our men are so dependant on the waters of the sea. Away from her, our health will wither, we will become wasters and gamblers not to speak of searching for the wrong kind of jobs. We need to be together to live in peace and harmony. Has any impact study ever mentioned this? Will a bit of money be able to buy us all that living in the community brings ?

Yes, please answer all these questions and we will reconsider our vow to struggle till KKNPP is closed. We suggest that all the  decision makers and technical support personnel connected to KKNPP stay with us in the village for a few days and explain and answer all our questions. Only then can our vow be broken…

[From conversations with Leema Navaras, Chellamma, Fransisca, Mary, Sundari, Annammal, Chinna Thankam, Tamilarasu, Ponnasakkiammal, Paramasithi, Melrit and Xavieramma and the innumerable women gathered in the Samara pandal at Idintakarai village. 
11.08.2012, 15-16.08.2012, 22.08.2012, 31st Aug 2012.]

Anitha.S ( anithasharma2007@gmailcom).

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