By Anitha S
10 January, 2014
The first weekend of January 2014 was special for us living in Idinthakarai, the coastal village most affected by the ill famed Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Our village was the venue for the National Convention of anti-nuke movements for two days. This sleepy fishing village has for the past 870 days been the epicenter of the resistance of people against the Nuclear Power Plant close to us that came without consulting or informing us. All of this may seem like old stories to many of you.But for us here just 2 kms away from the yellow domes now believed to guzzle out electricity, the story is still new and painful. We have not accepted the fact that we are to live near this virtual bomb, with no assurance given about security, safety or environmental impact especially on the ocean which sustains us.
This feeling of fear and anger is what made the two days special for us. It meant a lot to know that there are still many people and organizations in the country who care for us and our ongoing struggle. They all came to Idinthakarai and spent time with us to know more about our feelings and plans. The meetings were very serious and focused on the need to have a comprehensive Nuclear Policy for India that does not negate the democratic rights of people and communities. It shocks us that in countries like Germany a referendum is required from the local community before a nuclear facility is set up. And look at us, claiming to be the largest democracy in the world where communities and villages like us are still not informed about what is happening.
The meeting where friends and supporters from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and many other parts of the country joined was made special by the strong presence of Admiral Ramdas and Lalitha Ramdas. The clarity about the ongoing nuke- colonization of India and the need to demystify the all pervading quality of nuclear energy was the baseline of all discussions. We have understood over the years as the KKNPP started invading our lives that the nuclear establishment is begotten with lies and corruption, with outdated technology and unreliable safety and security features. We have been asked to ignore Chernobyl and Fukushima, the Tsunamis and subsidence that occur in our land and sea and live as if blissfully unaware of the sea around us that will die with the heat and nuclear radiation. It is here that those who have stood with us over the years and who keeping coming to reassure us become important and dear. That is also why the past two days has been significant for us to reinstate our resolve to continue the struggle.
We are ashamed, shocked and angered that the Prime Minister of India remarks that the greatest achievement in a decade is the Indo-US Nuclear deal. Does this deal assure the millions in our country of free and uninterrupted access to clean air, water and food/? Will it help us overlook the blaring truth that while Mukesh Ambani’s Antilla pays a monthly electricity bill of Rs 76 lakhs, 40 million people in India live in the dark? We find it ironical that the PM laid the foundation stone for Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership and the National Cancer Institute in the same venue at Jasuar Kheri village in Haryana on January 4th. While we write this, communities in Fatehabad, Haripur, Jaitapur, Kowwada, Mithirvirdi, Banswada, Chutka, Kalpakkam, Jadugoda, Thevaram, Madurai, Pazhayakayal and Manavalakuruchi are putting up tough fights to protect their right for a safe life and access to land, water, livelihood and amenities.
In this context, the meeting resolved to support all the people in the thick of struggle all over the country. The need to put pressure on political parties to make clear their Nuclear Agenda was also debated. The cost of nuclear deals and proliferation would be paid by communities and people as it would be implemented by the most undemocratic and unfair means.
We are glad that there has been so much discussions and exposure to new issues and people here- in our doorstep by the Samara Pandal in the courtyard of our Church. Our children now regularly take and read books from the library set up from the contributions received for the book “No: Echoes Koodankulam”. We are proud that our dear sister Sundari who lost many months in jail and on conditional bail away from home has penned her thoughts as a book : Unfettered Struggle (Sirai Paadal Porattam). She has lucidly written about her experiences with the Police, in jail and as a strong fighter for justice and life in this village.
Yes, our fight and struggle is unfettered. As days pass, our determination to continue voicing our demands are getting firmer and clearer. For we know that this is the fight for truth and justice, for life and health, for pure air, water and soil.
Anitha.S in conversation with Melrit, Sundari, Tamizh, Xaviearmmal, Mary, Udayakumar, Pushparayan, Milton. Reading Idinthakarai Resolution.