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Archives for : Koodankulam

India should join the renewables revolution for handsome gains

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Renewable Options

PRAFUL BIDWAI  writes in Frontline Magazine

Instead of imposing nuclear power upon unwilling people, India should join the renewables revolution for handsome gains.

PRIME Minister Manmohan Singh has stooped low by alleging that the large-scale protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power station in Tamil Nadu, sustained impressively for six months, are inspired and financed by American and Scandinavian non-governmental organisations. Invoking the “foreign hand” to vilify those who question official projects means denying that Indian citizens have the ability to think for themselves. This is particularly offensive coming from a leader who wants to hitch India’s energy future to imported nuclear reactors and whose own economic policy has long borne an indelible foreign imprint.

In reality, the only foreigners in Kudankulam have been the Russian engineers invited by the Nuclear Power Corporation. The people’s organisations leading the agitation are serving defamation notices upon the Ministers who levelled malicious accusations against them instead of engaging them and convincing them of the project’s safety.

Equally pernicious is the Prime Minister’s allegation that “the thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy”. Recent statements by some Indian intellectuals, such as the historians Romila Thapar and Mushirul Hasan, the economists Amit Bhaduri, Jean Dreze and Deepak Nayyar, the political scientist Rajeev Bhargav, the ambassador Nirupam Sen, the artists Krishan Khanna and Vivan Sundaram, and P. Balaram, Director, Indian Institute of Science, belie this claim. In fact, after Fukushima, there is a close congruence between popular perceptions and the intelligentsia’s concerns about nuclear hazards.

The slander campaign against the Kudankulam activists is clearly a prelude to a crackdown to thrust the nuclear plant down their throats. But Manmohan Singh should know that this will not quell the growing, determined popular opposition to nuclear power in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and indeed Kudankulam itself.

Using brute force to impose nuclear power plants on an unwilling population has dire implications not just for India’s energy sector but for democracy, our greatest post-Independence achievement. It will usher in a police state, an authoritarian “nuclear state” that rides roughshod over people’s rights and promotes a dangerously callous technocracy, as writer Robert Jungk famously warned. India’s nuclear zealots seem to have no compunction in outlawing dissent in pursuit of their obsession. This is a frightening prospect, which should make Indian policymakers pause and think. If indeed they want to improve access to electricity, denied to two-fifths of the population, and equitably promote a low-carbon, safe and climate-friendly energy economy, then a historic opportunity now presents itself in the renewable energy revolution that is sweeping the globe. Renewable energy today accounts for one-fifth of the world’s power capacity and delivers 18 per cent of global electricity and primary energy supply, besides 24 per cent of heat supply.

Grid-connected solar photovoltaics (or PV, which is the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity) have been growing annually by 53 per cent and wind power by 32 per cent. Deployment of other renewables such as solar thermal, biomass, tidal and geothermal energy is also growing rapidly. The renewables revolution seems unstoppable and developing countries are playing an important role in driving it.

New investment in renewables has defied the general global investment downturn since 2008. Investment rose to $150 billion in 2009 and further jumped to $243 billion in 2010, up 134 per cent since 2007 and almost five times higher than in 2004.

By contrast, the number of nuclear reactors worldwide peaked at 444 in 2002 and is now down to under 400 (counting those shut down in Germany and Japan). Their contribution to global electricity supply, once 17 per cent, has fallen to under 13 per cent. They account for only 2 per cent of the world’s final energy consumption (less than 1 per cent in India) compared with 18 per cent for renewable energy worldwide. More than 150 nuclear reactors are set to retire in the next two decades, and only about 60 are planned to replace them.

The so-called nuclear renaissance that George W. Bush wanted to instigate has not materialised. No new reactor order has matured in the United States since 1973. Western Europe has not had a single new reactor commissioned since Chernobyl (1986).

Areva’s European Pressurised Reactors, or EPRs (also meant to be installed at Jaitapur in Maharashtra), under construction in Finland and France, have run into grave trouble with regulators. They are over four years behind schedule, 95 per cent over budget, and mired in legal disputes.

Renewable energy is growing by leaps and bounds because it is flexible, modular, and increasingly competitive, thanks to rapidly falling costs. It takes only months, often weeks, to install a PV facility or wind turbine, in contrast to 10 to 13 years for nuclear reactors. The timeline is crucial from the climate viewpoint. World emissions must peak by 2020 if global warming is not to exceed 2 C.

Not to be discounted is the abundance of renewable energy resources, enough to meet the world’s energy needs 3,000 times over. Renewable energy is amenable to decentralised and stand-alone applications as well as to grid-based systems. The first characteristic is particularly relevant to India, where tens of thousands of villages remain deprived of electricity and where home-lighting systems could transform the quality of life. Renewable energy fits in snugly with energy efficiency improvement, and the two uniquely complement each other.

In India, “new” renewable energy (wind, PV, solar thermal, small hydro, and so on) deployment, barely a decade old, is growing annually at 3,500 megawatt and already exceeds the capacity of nuclear reactors fourfold and generates twice as much energy as they do. Wind generation is in true costs already cheaper than coal-based power. The cost of PV is decreasing dramatically. At the latest 130 MW auction under the National Solar Mission, the lowest generation-cost figure quoted was Rs.7.49 a kilowatt-hour, less than half of the EPR’s power. Global costs are even lower at 12-15 U.S. cents/kWh, and falling. They are expected to halve within the next few years and become grid-competitive with fossil fuels. The opportunity this offers to sun-blessed India cannot be exaggerated.

Renewable energy sources have lower life cycle carbon dioxide emissions than not just gas and coal but also nuclear power. Although nuclear fission does not directly produce greenhouse gases, the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to fuel fabrication and transportation, to reactor construction, and fuel reprocessing and waste storage, has a sizeable carbon footprint.

The CO {-2} emissions of renewable energy sources range from as low as 3 to 7 grams a kWh (wind) to 8.5 gm to 11 gm (concentrated solar power), and 19 to 59 gm (PV, although these are expected to fall). The figure for nuclear power ranges from 68 gm to 180 gm.

Read Frontline article here

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Marching Orders

Marching Orders

Shobhan Saxena, TNN | Mar 4, 2012,

When a backpacker is woken up by the police in the middle of the night, forced to reveal the password of his laptop, and put on a flight toGermany because he is suspected of “financing” an agitation in the area, it looks both silly and paranoid.”In India, I lived on $10 per day. There was no budget for financing organizations or people. I never made any money transfer on behalf of other people or organizations. I am unemployed,” says Rainer Sonnntag Hermann, the German tourist who was deported from Chennai on Wednesday. “I participated in some anti-nuclear demonstrations. As far as I know, this was no illegal activity,” he adds from his home in Essen, Germany.

This week, as the Centre began looking into the funding of some NGOs for their “role” in the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear plant, a WikiLeaks report revealed that a private US intelligence firm, Stratfor, has been spying on NGOs and activists in Bhopal on behalf of Dow Chemicals, the company they have been fighting with for compensation and justive to victims of the gas tragedy in 1984.

With the government breathing down their neck and private spooks on their tail, activists see a devious design – an attempt to silence protests . “There has been a concerted effort to criminalize the whole Bhopal movement. After 27 years of the tragedy , the people and firms responsible for the death of thousands of people remain unpunished, but there are a number of cases against the activists. If convicted , we could spend up to 15 years in jail,” says Satyu Saranagi, an activist who has been tracked by Stratfor, the Texas-based firm.

Is space for genuine protests shrinking in India? Is the government so fearful of the so-called foreign hand? The government denies there is a witchunt in this case. “Accounts of NGOs are generally being scrutinised by various agencies. It is incorrect to say that 77 NGOs are being investigated. We are looking into the accounts of 12-13 Indian NGOs with regard to allegation of funds diversion,” Union home secretary R K Singh said on Friday.

But activists say bigger issues are stake. “There is a sharp contradiction here. The multinational corporations can come to India, do business and also influence government policies but foreign NGOs and activists have to face all kinds of problems,” says Sarangi.

In the inter-connected world, say activists, this paranoia makes little sense and governments must learn to live with global activists. “I was shocked when people were killed in police firing at Jaitapur, Maharashtra . Indian police killing their own people for the interest of a French nuclear company is unacceptable to us. I have a right to protest in my country as well as in India,” says a French activist who doesn’t want to be named as she fears revocation of her visa.

Visa is one of the sticks the government uses to beat the “trouble-making” foreign activists and NGOs with. The Foreign Currency Regulation Act (FCRA) and Income-Tax laws are other methods to “discipline” people. In states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa, there has been so much harassment by government agencies that NGOs receiving foreign aid have almost stopped organizing protest rallies. “Local intelligence units and the police regularly check our accounts and and scare us with FCRA and I-T laws,” says Indu Netam, a well-known activist who runs Adivasi Samta Manch in Kanker, Chhattisgarh . “By changing the definition of ‘political activity’ in FCRA, the government has made it impossible for us to organize rallies and the entire culture of protests has been silenced.”

What’s a democracy without disagreements and protests? Should a government try to control civil society groups and movements by using laws against them? The government should, say experts , regulate and not control NGOs. “Regulate the sector as you regulate foreign investment or companies . For years, NGOs have been demanding that they should be under FEMA and not FCRA as it’s that act which applies to companies using foreign exchange in India. All foreign companies operating in India may not be good for the country, but the government doesn’t try to control them. The same principle should apply to NGOs,” says Maja Daruwala of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. “I can’t understand this paranoia, this belief of the government that certain sector requires their suspicion, and others not.”

With NGOs and foreign activists under the scanner , there is a big question mark over the future of protests in the world’s biggest democrac

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Complaint to SHRC, Tamil Nadu regarding the brutal attack on women

Women against  Sexual Violence & State Repression
[email protected]

The State Human Rights Commission
143, P.S. Kumarasamy Raja Salai
(Greenways Road)
Chennai – 600 028
Tamil Nadu

Subject: Requesting an enquiry by SHRC, Tamil Nadu with a judicial probe into the brutal attack on women and PMANE representatives in the Tirunelveli DC’s compound in Tamil Nadu.

We bring to you notice the brutal attack in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu on the January 31, 2012 on two representatives of PMANE (People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy) accompanied by twenty women who have been peacefully opposing the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant (KNPP). This attack by Hindu Munnani goons who were accompanied by local Congress leaders occurred when the PMANE team was on its way to the fourth meeting with members of the Central Government Expert Panel on the KNPP at the office of the District Collector who is Chief Executive of the District Administration.

Eyewitness reports point out that four of the brave women who were badly injured – Sahaya Inita (40yrs), Milred (40 yrs), Reetha (55 yrs) and Leela (62 yrs), were from the fishing community, which has been active in the non-violent campaign to stop the KNPP. During the attack, the women formed a human shield around the two male representatives of PMANE. All four women were kicked on the stomach and hit with helmets by the goons. Their hair was pulled and blouses torn. They were later treated at Radhapuran hospital and all four were complaining of severe pain all over their bodies. Inita’s right arm muscle was twisted and she sustained a bone fracture in the same arm. Mildred’s left arm tissue was ripped by fingernails of the goons. Another woman’s neck disc was dislocated.

Such violent attacks on women and other activists involved in democratic and peaceful mass movements by state and corporate sponsored goons, often in collusion with other political parties, police and security forces are on the rise in India. We have also seen this recently in Orissa and other states. What is horrifying, but not surprising in this case is that this brutal attack took place when they were inside the compound of the Tirunelveli Collectorate, while the police on duty merely watched instead of stopping the attackers. Prior to the attack, the police ignored the complaints of the PMANE team about the presence of goons in the compound. Observers also noted that when Hindu Munnani fundamentalists arrived with the Congress leaders ten minutes prior to the arrival of the PMANE team, they were allowed to go in and meet with the press. Others were however, stopped by the police and told the collector was busy. The DC who remained in his office during the attack appears to be culpable in this case.

Prior to this attack, Hindu Munnani fundamentalists have been attempting to create a rift between the mostly catholic fisherwomen and the non-Christian communities involved in the anti-nuclear energy movement in this district. After the attack, the media as well as the authorities, who also benefit from creating a rift in the non violent anti-nuclear plant movement, have portrayed the attack on the PMANE activists as a communal conflict. However, this is completely false. We believe that this attack on movement leaders and women protesters is a strategy of trying to create tensions, to divide the people on religious lines and turn the movement violent. It is therefore, heartening to hear that the community remains strongly united and that this terrible incident has actually helped strengthen the peoples’ antinuclear energy movement.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) joins these injured women and other PMANE representatives in demanding:
1) Arrest all the attackers as well as Congress members and leaders who accompanied the Hindu Munnani goons and are responsible for direct violence and for sponsoring and/or supporting the violence. Register criminal cases against all of them.
2) Remove the District Collector from his post during the probe so that it can be conducted fairly; the District Collector as the Chief executive of the District Administration must take responsibility for the violence that occurred within his premises and under his jurisdiction.
3) Order a judicial probe on all authorities that were directly or indirectly responsible for or tacitly supporting the attack including the police officers who were mute spectators of this brutal attack; Suspend all police officers present for dereliction of their duty, specifically for not protecting the PMANE members during the attack.
4) Initiate appropriate action against the other authorities of the Koodankulam atomic power project or state found responsible for authorizing or otherwise supporting this brutal attack.
5) Stop and Scrap the Koodankulam atomic power project. Protect the environs, peoples’ right to health and life as well as their livelihoods.

Whether it is in Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Jharkhand, etc., we are deeply concerned about the growth in state and other vested interests sponsored violence on the people, which has undermined the democratic processes and institutions of our country. We therefore, appeal to the National and Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commissions to join the people of Tirunelveli and other Southern Districts of Tamil Nadu and our national campaign in condemning this heinous attack on the women and other activists in the Tirunelveli Collectorates’ office. We request you to immediately launch an investigation into the attack, probing the complicity of the police, DC and other members of the administration and help ensure that justice is served.

Kalpana Mehta, ([email protected])
Geeta Charusivam, ([email protected])
Uma Chandru ([email protected])
For Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

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Condemn Attack on Anti-Koodankulam Nuclear Plant Agitation Leaders and Women Supporters

Attack on Anti-Koodankulam Nuclear Plant Agitation Leaders and Women Supporters

Jan 31st 2012 : The representatives of Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (spearheading the campaign to stop the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant ) Pushparayan and Jesuraj and 20 women accompanying them has been attacked by Goondas(hired thugs) inside Tirunelveli Collecotrate compound on their way to attend talks with the Central Government Expert Panel. The women who tried to offer shield to the PMANE representatives have been beaten up and they are in hospital now. Along with the goondas were local Congress leaders also. The police where moot spectators when the attack happened even after the PMANE representatives had earlier warned about the presence of these Congress personals and goondas to them.It is intresting to note that the Central Government Panel has failed to answer most of the questions raised by the movements own panel and whatever answers given were all unsatisfactory. Moreover the central panel and central government has also refused to meet the movements expert panel and have an open discussion. All this while the Koodankulam Anti Nuclear protest has stood out as a symbol of non-violent protest with no violent action happening from the movement. This move of attacking movement leaders is a strategy of trying to create tension and turn the movement violent. The movement has withdrwan from the talks after the incident which gave clear indications of central governments back door working. Protests are happening in tirunelveli and other southern tamilnadu districts condemning the attacks.

Condemn this attack by sending mails, missed calls and fax to the following address
Prime Minsiters Office
fax – 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857 phone – 91-11-23012312
Chief Minster Tamil Nadu‘s Office
e-mail [email protected] fax- 91-44-25671441 Phone -91-44-25672345
Indian National Congress Office
fax- 91-11-23017047 Phone – 91-11-23019080

The context of the attack and the talks
This was the fourth round of talks and there have been no indications of the Central Government paying any heed to the concerns raised by PMANE and the people. The fourth round of talks have been happening after a long gap with the previous 3 happening on November 7th and 18th and December 15th. Between December 15th and now the central government has resorted to bullying tactics of filing cases, foreign fund allegations, agressive media campaigns providing money to main stream media etc… In the mean time Manmohan Sigh went to Russia and issued a statement on Dcember 16th that the plant will be commissioned in two weeks time. He visited Tamil Nadu in December end and is said to have struck a deal with the state government on the Koodankulam Issue. The minster of state at the Prime Ministers office has been issuing statemens that the plant will become operational with state government assistance soon. Indication on this regard has been given by representatives of Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited as well. Along with all this Congress has been staging various protests demanding for the opening of the Koodankulam Plant. Meanwhile the protests by the locals in and around Koodankulam and in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu have not subsided at all. Pushparayan and Jesuraj are the two representatives from the movement who are part of the state panel interacting with the Central Government Panel set up to address the concerns of the people and prove that the plant has no impact on local environment, livelihood, health and is safe in all aspects.

Issued By
Koodankulam Anti Nuclear Protest Support Group Kerala
08547698740, 09847439290, 09447218282

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Koodankulam a national shame, says Binayak Sen


Over 5,000 protesters demand scrapping of Kudankulam project

Jan 27,CHENNAI: Even as the anti-nuclear stir on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) continues, noted human rights activist and public health specialist Dr Binayak Sen slammed the project calling it a “national shame”.
Speaking to Express after attending the TANKER awards function in the city, Sen said plainly, “It is obviously a huge risk and the fact that they are going ahead with it is shameful.”
When informed that a special emissary from Prime Minister’s Office, Minister Narayanaswamy, had just then confirmed that the plant would be commissioned as planned, he pinpointed the risks the project posed to the people and environment. “If not for anything else, see what happened in Fukushima. Do we (dare) risk a repeat?” he asked.
The national vice-president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Sen was appreciative of the way the people had risen as a community and opposed the nuclear plant. “It is heartening to see the way they have acted for their rights,” he said.
On the ongoing trial in his alleged links with Maoists in Chhattisgarh, the paediatrician who worked for over three decades in community health seemed surprisingly at ease. “The trial is on, but I am not really sure when the next hearing is,” he said. “I am not too worried as I have not done anything wrong.”
On the health front, Sen accused the government of projecting a “fictional” figure of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). “Several governmental agencies have published MMR figures that ranged between 200 and 300 deaths per one lakh live births. But in reality that number is between 400 and 500,” he said. A recipient of the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights, Sen’s love for his alma mater — Christian Medical College in Vellore — remains strong. He cut short his visit to Chennai to drive down to the Fort City on Wednesday.

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