By Anitha.S

30 September, 2012

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]).