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Archives for : Koodankulam

Join Protest in Solidarity With People’s Struggle Against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant @10thoct

 


10 October 2012 (12 noon onwards) Jantar Mantar

 

Thousands of people of Idinthakarai and other villages are waging a brave struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant, in the face of severe repression unleashed by the Central and State Governments.

At Fukushima in Japan, the entire world saw the horrors that a disaster in a nuclear power plant could wreak. The protestors at Koodankulam are seeking to avert a repeat of Fukushima in India. Post-Fukushima, several countries are rethinking their nuclear energy projects. But India is intent on bailing out the global nuclear industry, and is peddling lies to Indians and muzzling protests, in order to do so.

Manmohan Singh insists that the Koodankulam plant is safe.

  • ·         If indeed is the plant safe, why has Russia’s liability in case of a disaster been waived? If Russia is sure that its technology is safe and no disaster is possible, why does it want to avoid any responsibility in case of a disaster?!
  • ·         Even existing safety norms recommended by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board have been violated at Koodankulam.
  • ·         According to AERB’s own norms, there must be no population in the “exclusion zone” covering a 1.6km radius from the plant, and population in the 5km area around the plant must be under 20,000. At Koodankulam, a Tsunami Rehabilitation Colony stands less than 1km from the plant! And at least 40,000 people live within a 5km radius.

When the nuclear regulatory authorities and the Government so brazenly violate existing regulations and lie to the public, how can the protesting people be expected to have faith in their assurances of ‘safety’?

Moreover, why is the Government so intent on muzzling the democratic protest?

  • ·         FIRs have been slapped on some 55,000 protestors
  • ·         Charges of ‘sedition’ have been slapped on 8000 protestors
  • ·         Protestors including women, children, and old people have been severely beaten by police
  • ·         One man was killed in police firing and one died of shock when a Coast Guard plane flew low to terrorise the protestors
  • ·         Women have been subjected to sexually abusive language and sexual violence
  • ·         Leaders have been arrested; those who remain out of jail are virtual prisoners in the struggle villages
  • The entire area has been turned into a police camp, with visitors prevented from meeting local people. Recently, 3 visitors from Japan were deported, and the CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya was recently detained by police on the outskirts of Idinthakarai when he sought to make a solidarity visit.

Worst of all, the protestors are being branded as ‘foreign-funded’ and there is an attempt to whip up a communal campaign against them. Not only the Congress Government at the Centre and the AIADMK Government in Tamil Nadu – the BJP and Sangh Parivar too are conducting this communal campaign, claiming that ‘Christian missionaries’ are fuelling the ‘anti-national’ protest.

The question at Koodankulam is not just one of ‘allaying fears’ of people. Nor is it an academic question of the merits and demerits of nuclear power, or the differences between nuclear plants set up before and after the Indo-US Nuke Deal. The key question is one of democracy: will people’s democratic protests be heard in India, or will they be suppressed by brute force? Do Indian citizens have a right to the truth and facts, or will our Governments get away with lying to us? Above all, can there be any ‘national interest’ that jeopardizes the lives of millions of people, while clearly benefiting foreign nuclear companies?

The All India Left Co-ordination (AILC) has called for a fortnight of protests all over the country in solidarity with people’s struggle against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant. We invite you to join a protest at Jantar Mantar on October 10, 2012 (Time: 12 noon onwards).

–          Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation [CPI(ML)], Delhi State Committee.

 

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE- CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya Arrested while Entering Koodankulam

 

Press Release

 

CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya

Arrested while Entering Koodankulam

 

New Delhi, 1 October 2012

 

CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya along with other CPI(ML) leaders was arrested today at Radhapuram, a few kilometers away from Idinthakarai, the site of the protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant. CPI(ML) Politburo member S Kumaraswamy and Tamil Nadu State Secretary Balasundaram and other CPI(ML) leaders of Tamil Nadu were also arrested along with him.

At Tirunelveli town this morning, local CPI(ML) leaders were detained by police and prevented from proceeding to Idinthakarai. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya and his team had proceeded directly to Indinthakarai from Tuticorin airport, but were stopped by a huge posse of police, at a short distance from Idinthakarai.

A Convention organised by the All India Left Coordination (AILC) at Mavalankar Hall, New Delhi yesterday had given a call for a fortnight-long Solidarity Campaign in support of the anti-nuke agitation at Koodankulam, from October 1-15. The CPI(ML) General Secretary’s visit to Koodankulam on October 1 was to kick off the solidarity fortnight. A videotaped message of Koodankulam struggle leader SP Udayakumar was also screened at the AILC Convention yesterday.

After his arrest, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said, “Why are citizens being prevented from meeting and interacting with the protesting people of Koodankulam? Such arrests expose the utterly draconian conduct of the Central Government and TN State Government, which are attempting to choke off the people’s protests by sheer force.” Commenting on the Koodankulam struggle, he said, “The names of places like Chernobyl and Fukushima became well-known after terrible nuclear disasters occurred there. But Koodankulam has become known the world over, for the brave agitation to prevent a disaster.”

 

Prabhat Kumar,

For CPI(ML) Central Committee

 

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Just A Word Away, From Dr. Abdul Kalam to Women of Idinthakarai

By Anitha.S

30 September, 2012
Countercurrents.org

There was a recent reference to Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s statement “ The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a project of God for fulifilling the electricity production and need of this country which will be 50,000 mw in 2030.It is a necessary project” ( Deccan Heralad, Sept 26,2012).

At the same time this came in the newspapers, the women of Idintakarai village, the closest to the KKNPP shared their views on the real project of God. This was not published anywhere but will perhaps go down in the annals of history as a perspective tempered by years of thought about peace and harmony. Chellamma who lost her dear brother Sahayam to a mishap caused by the aircraft which flew low on the people who had aggregated in the sea said in her quiet tone
“ Does this land and sea belong to us? Is it the Government who gave it to us? This sand is sacred .It is a gift of God. We have lived here for ages. We will not leave this land”

Chinna Thankam who taxed her aged body by being on fast for more than a week in March 2012 became eloquent one evening:
“ We are children of the Ocean. We have grown up playing in the ocean. The Ocean mother gives us many gifts by which we live. We do not know of any life away from the sea”

The 2 sentences from the women of Idinthakarai which is echoed by many seems a world away from Dr.Kalam’s statement which is connected to a few megawatts of electricity. It may seem incongruous and not so opportunate to write about 10 year old Shyamili (whose mother went missing since September 10th and who has been found in Trichy jail) who expressed her anguish about the radiated fish that would be exported to other places spreading the danger to children elsewhere”

Many women were more concerned about the future generations and the impact on the sea life and atmosphere. This is happening at a time when the KKNPP is getting the green signal with no comprehensive study yet being done on the ecology and environment of the area. The currents and tides which determine the migratory shoals of fishes on which the fisher folk depend is unknown. The temperature of the ocean which is crucial for the life forms to survive as there is a definite zonation based on the variations in heat and cold. The characteristic pattern of the food chain which determines the abundance of higher forms like fishes are unknown. The producers in the marine food chain like the plankton and algae which inhabit the surface waters in the sea where sunlight is available will be most affected when unfamiliar temperature rise happens. This is in addition to issues of concern like impingement and entrainment and destruction in large numbers of phyto and zoo plankton , fish eggs and larvae of many sea creatures that will hamper the food chain of the marine ecosystem. How can this biological chain reaction that will lead to a biodiversity collapse be enclosed in a single sentence “ this is a project of God” or a blanket statement “ It is safe”? The green clearance that was given in 2008 does not furnish the details of impact of 7 degree rise of temperature on the marine system but just states that for Koodankulam it is this and for Jaitapur it is 5 degree Celsius.

We need to do a complete review of the ecological impact of the Nuclear power plant on the marine and terrestrial ecosystem in the region along with the vulnerability of exposure for migratory fishes and birds along with pelagic birds that inhabit the surface waters. Yes. Koodankulam region is certainly God’s gift not the Koodankulam Nuclear power plant. Because the sea and the land has sustained human life and culture for many years. What we need now is a comprehensive recheck and review of the norms and mandates that have cleared the project. In the case of nuclear power plants where humans are playing God and manipulating the life of future generations, it is never too late to stop. Let Koodankulam be a pointer.

From Dr.Kalam to the women of the coastal villages, Koodankulam is just a word away. And if you change it from a God’s project to a God’s gift a whole world is gained instead of a few megawatts of power.

Anitha.S on 29.9.2012 ( [email protected]).

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Is it a crime to question? #Koodankulam #protest

Sunday Magazine, The Hindu, Sep 30, 2012

When women choose to protest, they face forms of harassment to break their spirit.

Road Roko:They know what’s in store.Photo: A.ShaikMohideen

 Road Roko:They know what’s in store.Photo: A.ShaikMohideen

For more than a year now, these women have made the shamiana their home.

 

When you enter Idinthakarai village, the epicentre of the storm swirling around the controversial Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, everything appears calm but also quiet in an unreal way. Where are all the people? It is only when you go a little further that you see the shamiana erected in front of the Lourde Matha church and the hundreds of women and children sitting under it. For more than a year now, these women have made the shamiana their home. They sleep, eat, fast, sing songs, raise slogans and each day renew their commitment to the protest against the KNPP.

Until September 10, they did not think twice about the discomfort and hardship. Many of them are from villages some distance away. How do they bathe? Where is the toilet? Some of them say they eat and drink very little through the day so that they can avoid going to the toilet. But they have to feed their children.

To do this, some of them get up before dawn, prepare the food in their homes, and then come back by sunrise to sit in the tent the rest of the day and the night.

On September 20 and 21, when I met some of these women, their spirits were high but their bodies were wounded. Women were in the front row of the protest on September 9 and 10, on the beach of Idinthakarai, to “lay siege to the plant”. Needless to say, the siege was metaphorical, for no one can go anywhere near this highly guarded plant.

Did these women not expect the police to react and break up the protest, I asked Ritamma, a 43-year-old single woman. They genuinely did not, she says. On the 9{+t}{+h}, many of the protestors had felt sorry for the women police who were practically fainting in the heat. They had even offered water.

But on September 10, the story was different. Despite the presence of so many women and children, there was a lathi charge and tear gas shells were thrown into the crowd. Men and women ran into the sea to escape the police. But there was no escape.

As a result, scores of women and men, including old men, have been wounded by the lathi or have burns caused by the explosion of the tear gas shells. With these wounds has come the realisation that in a democracy, even a peaceful protest is not tolerated. The women are puzzled about this. What did we do wrong, they ask? Can we not ask questions? Why does no one listen to our questions and talk to us directly?

No simpletons these

Indeed, why does no one listen? You hear words like “misled”, or “instigated” by representatives of the police, the government and the nuclear power establishment. What they are suggesting is that these women lack intelligence, that they are simpletons who can be “misled”. It is assumed that if people are either poor, or unlettered, they have no ability to understand “complex” issues. But for the women in Idinthakarai there is nothing complex about the problem they are facing. Their future has been tied to a technology that has been proven to have devastating consequences in the event of an accident. And an accident can occur from a natural disaster – like a tsunami about which they are well aware, as they were affected in 2004 – or human error. No one can guarantee that there will never be a human error.

That is one side of the story. The other is the specific impact on women when they join a struggle and risk the wrath of the state law and order machinery. Men are beaten, or locked up. But for women there are specific forms of harassment to break their spirit.

Woman after woman spoke about the sexist and abusive language used by the policemen, virtually suggesting that as they were willing to have sex with the leaders of the movement, they should offer the same to them. Some mentioned actual physical molestation. Lavinia, a 29-year-old woman disabled by childhood polio, narrated that she tried to run to save her five-year-old daughter when the lathi charge began, when a policeman grabbed her arm and began dragging her away. When she resisted, he physically molested her. She fell at his feet and begged and was saved when another policeman intervened. “I feel so sad and angry when I think of it”, she says.

That is what all of us should feel – sad but also angry. Why, if women choose to resist, to protest, should they be sexually targeted? And that too by the very people who are supposed to be our “protectors”?

Despite the events of September 10, and the personal humiliation and taunts that these women heard, they remain resolute. You can “mislead” someone for a day. But will anyone volunteer to go through all this for over a year without understanding what she is resisting?

Email:[email protected]

 

 

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A Nuclear-Free Future is Our Common Dream: Letter from the Japanese Activists Deported from India #mustshare

To our friends who struggle for nuclear free future,

 

A Historic movement is underway in Tamil Nadu State against Koodankulam nuclear power station. People across the world are moved by the resistance and want to express solidarity

We tried to visit India to show our solidarity on September 25 but were denied access at Chennai airport. After an hour-long interrogation, we had our paper written as “Inadmissible person” ,which denied our entrance to India. It is unforgivable for the government, which invites countless nuclear merchants from Western countries, to deny such small citizens like us. We are writing this letter because we would like you to know what we experienced.

 

When we got off the plane and approached the immigration counter, one personnel came to us smiling.

We asked them where we can get arrival visa. They immediately checked our passport and brought us to the immigration office. There were more than 5 personnels asking questions to us respectively. I was brought to another room and three personnels asked me whether I am a member of No Nukes Asia Forum Japan. I was surprised because they mentioned the concrete name of the organization.

 

“You signed the international petition on Koodankulam, didn’t you? Your name was on the list. It means you are anti-nuclear” a personnel said. It so happens that all three of us our signatories of the international petition (May 2012). Another one asked me what we would do at Koodankulam. I was surprised again because no one had mentioned about Koodankulam. But the man showed me a printed itinerary of our domestic flight that I have never seen yet.

 

“We already know that you have booked the domestic flight. So you are going there. Who invited you all? Who is waiting for you at the arrival gate now? Who will pick you up at Tuticorin airport? Tell me their names. Tell me their telephone number. Will you join the agitation? ”  They asked many questions and surprisingly, they knew all our Indian friends’ names. We felt scared. We felt something wrong would happen to you. So we didn’t answer.

 

We know that many scientists supportive of nuclear power, and some that are paid by the nuclear industry have visited India and spoken on behalf of nuclear power. These were not merely allowed by the Indian Government, but even encouraged. With India’s avowed commitment to democracy, one would imagine that contrary points of view would be encouraged.

 

Then, they asked me another questions about us, referring to a bunch of papers. “What is Mr. Watarida’s occupation? He is involved in the anti-nuclear movement in Kaminoseki, right?” According to Mr. Watarida, there was a lot of information about our activities in Japan written on those papers. They already researched our activities in detail.

They tried to ask various questions. At first they talked in a friendly manner. They told us that we can enter India if we gave them the information about the movement in Koodankulam. But gradually they got irritated because they wanted to deport us as soon as possible. The Air Asia airplane that brought us to Chennai one hour earlier was about to leave again for Kuala Lumpur. We were at the office more than one hour. Finally, they said ” Answer within 5 minutes, otherwise you will be deported.” We answered a little but it seemed that they didn’t get satisfied with our answer. We were taken to the departure area. Mr. Nakai asked them to allow him to go to washroom, but they refused. Probably they didn’t want us to call some of our Indian friends, or they were waiting us to make domestic phone call. They wanted to know the exact names and telephone number of our friends, so I couldn’t use my cell phone.

 

At the last gate, Mr. Watarida asked a immigration staff why we got deported. He answered that the Indian government directed us to be sent out and that we would be in jail if we didn’t obey. We were taken to the Air Asia airplane and it took off immediately.

 

We were given a paper.  Mine was written as below;

 

WHEREAS Mrs. Yoko Unoda national who arrived at Chennai Airport from Kuala Lumpur on 25/9/2012 by flight No. AK1253 has been refused permission to land in India.

You are hereby directed under para 6 of THE FOREIGNERS ORDER 1948 TO REMOVE THE SAID FOREIGNER Mrs. Yoko Unoda out of India by the same flight or the first available flight failing which you shall be liable for action under the said PARA of Foreigners Order, 1948.

 

We had come to India in peace, to extend our peace and to extend our learnings about the dangers of nuclear power. As Japanese, we should know what the problems are with both the military use and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We are aware that in India, your government has organised international meetings of the nuclear industry, where the people interested in selling nuclear equipment have been invited as state guests to come and flaunt their wares. We have nothing to sell, just our stories about the dangers and pains that nuclear energy will bring you. It is unfortunate that your Government denied us the hospitality that the people of India were extending to us. In a democracy, and particularly with controversial technologies like nuclear energy, it is important that free and fair debate is conducted in a fear-free atmosphere. It is clear that the nuclear establishment in India is not prepared for such a free and fair debate.

 

In Japan, a report of a high level committee set up by the Parliament after Fukushima found that the disaster was made in Japan and was a result of secrecy, the failure of people to question their Governments and the closeness between the regulators and the nuclear energy operators.

 

Your Government’s refusal of entry to us merely because we bear an opinion contrary to theirs on the matter of nuclear energy speaks poorly of your Government’s claims to democratic ideals and free speech. We are fearful of the consequences of deploying a hazardous technology like nuclear power in such a secretive and oppressive context.

 

We could not see people in Koodankulam and those sympathized with them. It is truly regrettable that we could not meet them. However, after being denied entrance, our concern has become more serious and our solidarity has been stronger. Those who push for nuclear energy are closely connected. Globally, there are no boarders when it comes to  nuclear devastation. Then let us overcome the difference of nationalities and languages and make thousands of, ten thousands of comrades to fight for our future without nukes together. We hope to see you in India on next opportunity.

 

Masahiro Watarida(Hiroshima Network against Kaminoseki NPP)

Shinsuke Nakai(Video Journalist)

Yoko Unoda(No Nukes Asia Forum Japan)

 

 

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Jury Recommendations: PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES #mustread

 

PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES
September 28-29, Constitution Club of India, New Delhi

JURY RECOMMENDATIONS

DSC04362 300x168 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES

The role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India has been thoroughly exposed in testimony after testimony presented at the People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases.

It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as a whole as being involved in terrorism.

That the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families.

It is clear that the nefarious activities of the police and the state in general need to be checked and held accountable for their illegal fabrication of cases.

It is now recommended by the jury of the People’s Hearing that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.

It is recommended that the various civil action groups that are engaged in the human rights campaigns take a lead in preparing such exhaustive documentation.

jury 1 300x225 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASESIt is recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. Also, the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.

It is requested that the National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.

It is recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.

It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.

It is recommended that campaigns be launched to seek the repeal of the dubious seditious and terror laws that are grossly misused and abused by security agencies to implicate innocent people in fabricated cases.

It is recommended that the civil action groups for human rights establish a framework for healthcare related protocols that allow for a role of the ICRC and the Indian Red Cross as well as evolve a code of medical neutrality in armed conflict.

It is recommended that a campaign be launched into holding the state to account for the disappearances of individuals as well as the extrajudicial killings in fake encounters. Campaigns also need to build a strong action against custodial deaths.

Justice Rajinder Sachar
Saba Naqui
Dr. Ram Puniyani
Dr. Binayak Sen
Ajit Shahi

 

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Jury Recommendations: PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES #mustread

 

PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES
September 28-29, Constitution Club of India, New Delhi

JURY RECOMMENDATIONS

DSC04362 300x168 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES

The role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India has been thoroughly exposed in testimony after testimony presented at the People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases.

It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as a whole as being involved in terrorism.

That the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families.

It is clear that the nefarious activities of the police and the state in general need to be checked and held accountable for their illegal fabrication of cases.

It is now recommended by the jury of the People’s Hearing that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.

It is recommended that the various civil action groups that are engaged in the human rights campaigns take a lead in preparing such exhaustive documentation.

jury 1 300x225 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASESIt is recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. Also, the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.

It is requested that the National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.

It is recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.

It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.

It is recommended that campaigns be launched to seek the repeal of the dubious seditious and terror laws that are grossly misused and abused by security agencies to implicate innocent people in fabricated cases.

It is recommended that the civil action groups for human rights establish a framework for healthcare related protocols that allow for a role of the ICRC and the Indian Red Cross as well as evolve a code of medical neutrality in armed conflict.

It is recommended that a campaign be launched into holding the state to account for the disappearances of individuals as well as the extrajudicial killings in fake encounters. Campaigns also need to build a strong action against custodial deaths.

Justice Rajinder Sachar
Saba Naqui
Dr. Ram Puniyani
Dr. Binayak Sen
Ajit Shahi

 

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‘Mass Movements with Conviction Seldom Die’- SP Udayakumar #protest

Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 40, Dated 06 Oct 2012

AS WORK at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project kickstarts with the loading of fuel, SP Udayakumar, Coordinator of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and the brain behind the anti-nuke struggle, finds himself on the run. Following a warrant for his arrest, the 53-year-old Udayakumar has been forced to shift base from the St Lourdes Matha Church in Idinthakarai to Koothankuli, where more than 200 volunteers guard him day and night. In a candid interview, the antinuke activist tells Jeemon Jacob why PMANE will continue its struggle and why he cannot rule out the possibility of entering politics.

SP Udayakumar
SP Udayakumar

EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

Loading of fuel is in progress at the Koodankulam plant. Do you feel that you are on the verge of a losing battle?
Our struggle will not end tomorrow, it will go on forever. We have been protesting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) since 1989 and have intensified the protest in the last 406 days. It’s true that KKNPP has started loading fuel at its plants violating all safety norms, but now, the Supreme Court has also raised the question of safety. When we started our struggle, we knew that our path would not be easy. Today, there are more than 10,000 people in Idinthakarai sitting in protest. Another 8,000 are protesting in Koothankuli. There are other villages protesting too. It has become a mass movement and mass movements with conviction seldom die.

But, what’s the point in protesting after the nuclear plant becomes operational?
We have reached a point of no return. Over the last 10 days, police has unleashed terror in our villages. They raided our homes, arresting women and children and registering sedition cases against thousands of people. They did not even spare the old and the handicapped. Around 350 cases have been registered against two lakh people in the coastal areas. “With SP Udayakumar, Pushparayan Victoria and 400 others,” they can even register cases against the unborn. People within a 7 km radius have been accused in at least half a dozen criminal cases. What crimes have we done? Is it a crime to sit and fast when you have grievances? We are fighting for a larger cause.

There are rumours that you are going to fight Lok Sabha election on a DMK ticket.
That’s a joke. For me, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) is not a shortcut to politics. I did not join PMANE to become a leader. I live in Nagercoil, 35 km from Koodankulam with my family. I joined the Koodankulam struggle, as I believe that nuclear power endangers the lives of people. We have collectively taken a decision and stuck to it. As of now, I’ve no intentions of contesting elections. A section of our people wanted the anti-nuke movement to take a political turn, as we were ditched by all political parties. But I’ve strong reservations against it. We have no political colour and are driven by a cause. I wanted PMANE to remain like that. But it’s not my decision that will decide the course of our struggle.

Do you miss Idinthakarai?
I do. It was my second home for more than a year. I know everyone in that village. When I told them about my decision to surrender to the police, the women wept and the men lifted me, put me in a boat and brought me to Koothankuli. Their love and affection touched me. When I first came to Idinthakarai in 2004, I never thought the place was going to make my destiny.

How’s your life in Koothankuli?
I’ve put on weight. I’m sleeping and eating better. They take care of me well. This village is one of the toughest and most daring villages on the coast. I’m safe here.

Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka. 
[email protected]

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Nuking peaceful protests: democracy is at stake in Koodankulam

 

Praful Bidwai at http://www.dianuke.org/

Even zealous supporters of nuclear power should logically concede three things to their opponents. First, after Fukushima, it’s natural for people everywhere to be deeply sceptical of the claimed safety of nuclear power, and for governments to phase out atomic programmes, as is happening in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and now Japan.

Second, nuclear power, like all technologies, should be promoted democratically, with the consent of the people living in the vicinity, and with scrupulous regard for civil liberties. And third, safety must be paramount in reactor construction and operation, with strict adherence to norms and full compliance with the rules laid down by an independent safety authority.

The way the Indian government has dealt with the opponents of the Koodankulam nuclear reactors being built in Tamil Nadu violates all three red lines. Rather than treat such opposition as natural, logical and an indication of citizens’ engagement with the world, the Department of Atomic Energy and its subsidiary Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd see it as a pathological condition to be cured by psychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore.

The government has all along demonised Koodankulam’s opponents. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, no less, vilified them as inspired by “foreign-funded” NGOs without citing an iota of evidence. The government even deported a German tourist living in a Rs200-a-day room, alleging he was “masterminding” and financing the agitation. This week, it summarily deported three Japanese activists who were planning to visit Koodankulam. All this shows official disconnect with reality. Globally, nuclear power was in retreat even before Fukushima. The number of operating reactors peaked 10 years ago, and their installed capacity has been falling since 2010. Nuclear’s share of global power generation has declined from its peak (17 percent) to about 11 percent.

Post-Fukushima, the global nuclear industry faces its worst-ever credibility crisis. With increasingly adverse public opinion, and rising reactor costs (which have tripled over a decade), it’ll probably go into terminal decline. Jeff Immelt of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment says, nuclear power is “really hard to justify”. However, India continues its Nuclear March of Folly and has unleashed savage repression against anti-nuclear protesters. Hundreds of FIRs have been lodged against several thousands of people in Koodankulam (according to one estimate, an incredible 55,000 people), and many are charged with sedition and waging war against the state – for organising protests without a single violent incident.

It’s hard to think of another occasion, including the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, or the 1992 Babri demolition, where the state has charged so many people with such grave offences. On September 10, the police launched a vicious lathi and tear-gas attack on peaceful protesters although they were obstructing nobody’s movement. The police literally drove many agitators into the sea, molested women, arrested scores and looted their houses. Police firing killed a fisherman.

A fact-finding team led by Justice BG Kolse-Patil and senior journalist Kalpana Sharma describes the Koodankulam situation as a “reign of terror”, marked by “extreme and totally unjustified” use of force, physical abuse, vindictive detention of 56 people, including juveniles, and targeting of women. Such thug-like police behaviour, it says, “has no place in a country that calls itself democratic”. Yet, repression of movements against destructive projects is becoming part of a deplorable pattern in India. No socially desirable project can be built on the ashes of citizens. This in and of itself is a strong reason to oppose the Koodankulam reactors.

Manmohan Singh last year suspended work at Koodankulam and promised to allay people’s apprehensions regarding safety. But he had no intention of doing so. The sarkari experts he appointed didn’t even bother to meet the people’s representatives or answer their queries about the site’s vulnerability to tsunamis, volcanic activity and earthquakes. People’s fears grew as NPCIL refused to share relevant information with them, including the Site Evaluation and the Safety Analysis Reports. Despite a Right to Information request, a legal petition and a parliament question, NPCIL failed to disclose the text of an Indo-Russian intergovernmental agreement, which reportedly absolves the reactors’ supplier of any liability for an accident.

This puts a disturbing question-mark over the official claim that the reactors are safe, and accidents are all but impossible. If so, why is the supplier evading liability? That brings us to the third factor mentioned above: NPCIL’s non-compliance with safety protocols, and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s approval for fuel-loading in breach of the own norms. This is a grim story. Last year, following Fukushima, the AERB set up under state orders a task force to suggest improvements in reactor safety. This made 17 recommendations, pertaining to freshwater and power backup, improved sensors and instrumentation, etc.

The Koodankulam plant is not compliant with as many as 11 of the 17. The AERB first told the Madras High Court that it wouldn’t permit fuel-loading unless full compliance was established. But within four days, it made an about-turn – probably under pressure from the government. As the comptroller and accountant general has established in a recent report, the AERB lacks independence and is totally subservient to the government. On August 10, it permitted NPCIL to start fuel loading. NPCIL has since been loading live nuclear fuel into the first reactor. This is wrong and dangerous, and shows reckless disregard for safety procedures.

The AERB is guilty of yet more safety violations. Its own rules say there must be absolutely no population in the “exclusion zone” covering a 1.6km radius from the plant, and that the population in the 5km area must be under 20,000. Now, as anyone who has been to Koodankulam will testify, a a tsunami rehabilitation colony, with 450 tenements, stands less than 1km from the plant. At least 40,000 people live within a 5km radius. The AERB, supposedly the public’s nuclear watchdog, has turned a blind eye to this. Equally disgraceful is its failure to enforce another rule which stipulates that no fuel-loading be permitted until an off-site emergency preparedness drill is completed within a 16km radius under the joint supervision of NPCIL, the district administration, the state government and the National Disaster Management Authority.

This involves full evacuation procedures, with prior warning, identification of routes, commandeering of vehicles, and clear instructions to the public. No such drill was ever conducted. And yet, the AERB cleared initial fuel-loading. This amounts to playing with the public’s life.

India is loath to move away from nuclear power although the world is abandoning it rapidly. The transition is fastest in the OECD countries, which account for 70 percent of the world’s 429 reactors. There are just two reactors under construction in the West. Both are mired in safety problems, long delays and 130 percent-plus cost overruns. Even France, which gets 80 percent of its electricity from atomic reactors – a fact the global nuclear industry repeats as if that were clinching proof of its own safety and reliability – will reduce its nuclear dependence to 50 percent by 2025.

As nuclear declines, global investment in clean, flexible renewable sources like wind and solar has grossed $1 trillion since 2004. Their costs are falling dramatically. Renewables are the future.

The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and human-rights activist based in Delhi. Email: prafulbidwai1 @yahoo.co.in

 

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PRESS RELEASE–Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases

 

 MEDIA RELEASE: 28 September, New Delhi

DSC04230 1 300x169 Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases New Delhi: Depositions by representatives of social movements from across the country revealed a familiar pattern of shrinking spaces for democratic dissent. In struggle areas such as Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Odisha and Chhattisgarh the state response has been to use violence and fabricated cases as a systematic tool to undermine people’s struggle for social and environmental justice. A two day ‘Peoples hearing on fabricated cases’ is being organized at the Constitution Club by over 30 groups from across India under the banner of the National Campaign against Fabricated cases.

At Koodankulam, the site of a peaceful anti-nuclear struggle by local communities, the Tamil Nadu police has filed over 109 FIRs against 55,795 people and. At least 21 sections of the IPC have been used, including Section 121 (Waging War against the state) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The state has been unable to respond to substantive issues such as nuclear safety, seismology, environment impact assessment and democratic consent raised by the peaceful protesters.

In the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, there has been a massive investment push with 76 Mining leases, 19 thermal power plants, 23 special economic zones and the Jaitapur nuclear power project being imposed undemocratically on the fisher folk and peasants of the region. People’s democratic right to protest was prevented through legal prohibitory orders and hundreds of activists have been charged with false cases. ‘We have been robbed of our dignity and rights of democratic expression’ said Vaishali Patel one of the leaders of the people’s movement.

Representing the POSCO Prathirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Abhay Sahoo narrated the numerous fictitious cases filed against local communities. Sahoo himself is a victim of some 50 fabricated cases, and was behind bars for 14 months in 2008-09, 5 months in 2011-2012, and is now on bail. While 4 leaders of PPSS are still in jail, more than 200 false cases have been lodged against villagers and warrant orders have been issued against more than 2000 people out of which more than 500 are women. Over 100 women were arrested during the last 3 years but were released on bail.

Because POSCO and Koodankulam are prestige projects for the Manmohan Singh Government, Sahoo predicted that repression and instances of fabricated cases will increase in the coming days. ‘Both these movements need to create more organic linkages and fight jointly for justice’, said Sahoo.

Representatives from SAHELI, a Delhi based womens support group spoke about Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori, the tragic case of an adivasi family, caught in the crossfire of Operation Green Hunt in Chhattisgarh. Sori continues to languish in a Raipur jail on bizarre charges of burning houses and trucks.

Former MLA Sunilam Mishra, who is the leader of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, spoke about how the police and administration have become tools in the hands of companies in Madhya Pradesh. The MP Government lodged 66 false cases against Dr Sunilam and his associate farmers in one single incident of police firing in Multai.

Shauzab Kazmi deposed on behalf of his journalist father Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi who was arrested in March 2012 in connection with a bomb blast involving an Israeli diplomat.

Journalists Seema Azad and Shahina K K also spoke about the fabricated cases against them. A jury which includes Dr. Binayak Sen, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Ram Punyani, Saba Naqvi and Ajit Sahi will issue recommendations at 4pm tomorrow and a press conference will follow.

 

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