Kalpakkam must be made a case study: Medha Patkar


24 May

  • Addressing the people, social activist Medha Patkar said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. (File/PTI)
    Addressing the people, social activist Medha Patkar said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. (File/PTI)

On the second day of her visit to the State, social activist Medha Patkar visited Kalpakkam. While she was interacting with the people from the fishing community, she said, “More and more scientific data over the effects of radiation must be coming from Kalpakkam, and thereby, it should be made a ‘case study’ for other nuclear reactors.”

Addressing the people, she said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. The struggle of the fishing community against nuclear plants either in Kalpakkam or in Koodankulam, has turned a service to the environment and to the whole of mankind.”

“During the Narmada Valley protests, we had said it was in the quake-prone zone. But officials denied it. Later, there was a quake at Latur, where the place has been pointed as not in the quake-prone zone. It clearly shows that we cannot estimate the possibility of a quake at any given region. When there are scientific reports that showcases Kalpakkam is under such a hazard, why should we want to take the risk?,” she asked. She further said, “In the past, there were judges like V R Krishna Iyer and P N Bhagwati who ordered investigation committees to go to the ground and inspect. Such practices are not followed in today’s judiciary.”

Meet cancelled

Meanwhile, the proposed meeting with Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan IAS by social activist Medha Patkar was cancelled on Thursday evening.

According to members of NAPM, Medha Patkar had written to the Chief Secretary and got an appointment for around 5.30 pm on Thursday. But due to work exigencies, it is said the chief secretary cancelled the meeting.

 

Police Threaten to kill doctor practising among poor in Kalpakkam


From :

 

Dr. V.Pugazhenthi MBBS,

1/187, Mudhaliyar Street,

Sadras, Kanchipuram District,

Tamil Nadu, India

603 102

Ph: 8870578769

To: All the Democratically Concerned People of Tamil Nadu, India and the World

Respected Friend, Madem/Sir:

 

Sub: False Charges filed on me to curtail my professional and democratic duty to warn the people I am serving about the ill effects of the nuclear radiation around the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant

 

I am a medical doctor practicing in Sadras village near the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, India, since 1989. I was a gold medalist during my undergraduate years at Madurai Medical College, but chose not to pursue higher education because I felt I should work among the poor masses in the villages. I chose Sadras as the place for my practice since I had many friends at Kalpakkam, who happened to work in the Kalpaakam Nuclear Power Plant.

 

From 1989 to 2000, my professional work was focused principally on serving the Dalit and the Fisher folks. My interests were in Primary Heath Care and I had devised many innovative cost efficient methods to treat the most prevalent diseases among the masses. I had written profusely about these methods in many journals and have published books highlighting these. My work was recognised by the local and national media and they had interviewed me many a times with regard to this. The noted magazine “Outlook” had published an exclusive article about me on 21 June 2004. I was even fondly nicknamed as “One Rupee Doctor” by many magazines that had interview me. I had started a small health awareness movement called Makkal Nala Vazhvu Pani Iyakkam (Forum for People’s Good Life) and had opened a clinic at Vayalur exclusively for this purpose among its Dalit populace. Impressed by my work, former Justice of the Supreme Court Shri.D.K.Basu came unannounced to grace this occasion. (1)

 

It was during these first 10 years of my professional work I have understood that the chances of the people living around this Nuclear Power Plant to succumb to genetic diseases and various types of cancers was far higher than other places where nuclear power plants are not present. I decided to study this systematically. I got the first opportunity when my colleague Dr.R.Ramesh of Coimbatore asked me whether I could help in conducting a survey on the incidence of Polydactyly ( people with more than 5 fingers/toes in each hand or foot) in this region. This was early 2001 and was related to the public hearing process for the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor scheduled to be held on 27 July 2001. (2)  The survey showed a very high incidence and this made me plunge into studying the effects of radiation among the local populace. I have not looked back ever since and have conducted many a health surveys since. I have remained a whistle blower who have ardently asked the Nuclear Power Plant authorities to follow nationally and internationally accepted safety codes. (3) Appreciating my work, I have been asked to become the technical and medical consultant to a group of concerned local citizens on the ill effects of radiation. This group called “ Anuk Kathirveechu Paathukaappukkaana Makkal Iyakkam” (Peoples Movement for Protection Against Nuclear Radiation)” is to conduct a protest on 12 November 2011 against the breech of nationally and internationally laid safety codes by the authorities of the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant. Their contention has valid scientific proofs. People belonging to this movement are working for the past one month to make this protest a successful one.

 

It is in this background, I received a telephone call at 6 PM on 1 December 2011 from the Puthupattinam police station. The police inspector Mr.Siva Kumar, told me that the Puthupattinam Panchayat Chief had filed a petition against me and whether I could go to the Police Station for an enquiry in this regard. I was busy in my clinic and told him once my works were over I would meet him at the station. I went to the police station at 7.30 PM. I was asked to wait. The police inspector then telephoned the panchayat chief. He arrived at the station by 8..10 PM. The enquiry lasted for about 30 minutes. I left the place by 8.50 PM.

 

The police inspector narrated the charges filed against me by Mr.Kaliaperumal :

 

  1. Mr.Kaliyaperumal, the Panchayat Chief of Puthupattinam village has filed a petition against me and one Mr.Nehru. He is charging us both that we had threatened to murder him if he does not cooperate with out anti nuclear work.
  2. The alleged threat was sent to him in the form of an anonymous letter, which he said was penned by Mr.Nehru under my direction.
  3. An SMS to his mobile phone from an unknown mobile phone number had also threatened to murder him. This is also alleged to have been sent by someone close to me under my directions.
  4. Many SMS notes keep coming to his mobile phone from unknown numbers abusing him. He believes that all these SMS notes are sent to him under my directions.

    I gave the following replies to the police inspector with respect to the above charges:

1) I do not involve myself in any anti nuclear work. I am only discharging my professional service by telling everyone about the findings culled from my two decade long work and critical studies related to health and nuclear radiation in general and Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant in particular. I am not an organiser of any anti nuclear movement but am and will remain a technical and medical consultant of such movements. Recently I have been asked by People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy that spearheads people’s agitation against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, to share my professional experiences as one of its panel of experts. Like this, I have shared my experiences and studies with people all around the country.

I have met the Panchayat Chief Mr.Kaliaperumal on various occasions. I have even congratulated him on the day he had won the local election. I have talked to him cordially always. I have explained to him as I explain to everyone I meet, about the issue of nuclear radiation around. As I work as a medical professional and not as a political organiser, where does the question of me threatening him to join my work? My work is to treat, study and share. Where does his charge fit in?

However, as you are asking me a particular question, I state here that I have not at any moment threatened Mr.Kaliaperumal to join an anti nuclear agitation.

 

  1. I have nothing to do with the anonymous letter that threatens Mr.Kaliaperumal with death. I know Mr.Nehru, but under no circumstance he is working with me. The charge that Mr.Nehru wrote this letter under my influence is a concocted lie.

 

  1. I have nothing to do with any of the SMS notes that are alleged to be received by Mr.Kaliaperumal.

 

 

As I finished with my reply, the police inspector said he has not filed the First Information Report. However, he asked me to give in writing that “I would be present at the police station whenever I am summoned by him for further enquiries. If I am not present for such enquiries, then I agree that the charges kept on me is true.” I told him what that would mean to my daily professional schedule. I explained to him how the poor patients who come to see me from miles afar would deeply suffer. However, he insisted that I should give this in writing. At last, as a good samaritan,I gave him in writing that whenever he summons me I would be present at the police station.

 

Once I gave him this written note, he told me in a very harsh warning voice: “ Doctor! Do you know that I can book you under national Security Act for whatever the works that you are doing? By the way…. Have you ever heard anything about “police encounter”? So, be careful.”

 

I remain baffled. However, there’s no way my professional and democratic work can be suspended by any force whatever.

 

I strongly suspect the hand of the authorities of the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant behinnd all this. They are particularly disturbed by the facts I have recently published with respect to the safety codes being practiced by them. They are, I suspect, disturbed by a news that I am about to publish a book that is to question the various safety issues related with the power plant. I think, by intimidating me with such police threats, they believe that they will be able to make the Kalpakkam environment radiologically safe.

 

I have been open always for discussion with the authorities of the power plant. I have met them many a times and have always shared all the data available with me. However, they have, over the past 10 years have not tried to answer any of my questions in the earnest. Now, I suspect, that they have decided to opt other means to silence my work.

 

It is in this regard, I request all of you – my democratically minded brethren – to pray and voice for me and my family members.

 

Sincerely Yours

 

Dr.V.Pugazhenthi MBBS

Puthupattinam,

Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

 

#India -129 People Jailed for Protesting Against Kalpakkam Reactor #WTFnews


29 March, 2013 – In a bid to intimidate fenceline communities living around the Kalpakkam nuclear reactors, the Tamil Nadu Police has jailed 129 people of the 650 that were detained in wedding halls yesterday. Those detained were protesting to highlight that the nuclear complex in Kalpakkam was all threat and risk to the local community with no benefits either in the form of jobs or electricity.

A peaceful protest involving more than 1000 people was broken up by the police. Nearly 650 people peacefully boarded buses to court arrest. Given the peaceful nature of the protest, and the cooperation extended by the people to the police, those detained would normally have been released by evening. However, the Police invited a magistrate to the wedding hall where 129 people were detained, and filed two separate cases against them — one case naming 27 people (mostly leaders and organisers); and another naming 102 people.

Prominent among those arrested are leaders of the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The  police has slapped the following charges against the villagers:
Section 143 IPC: Punishment for Unlawful Assembly
Section 147 IPC: Punishment for rioting
Section 148 IPC: Rioting, armed with deadly weapons
Section 158 IPC: Whoever is engaged, or hired, or offers or attempts to be hired or engaged, to do or assist in doing any of the acts specified in section 141, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.

or to go armed. or to go armed.– and whoever, being so engaged or hired as aforesaid, goes armed, or engages or offers to go armed, with any deadly weapon or with anything which used as a weapon of offence is likely to cause death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 353 IPC: Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty.– Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any person being a public servant in the execution of his duty as such public servant, or with intent to prevent or deter that person from discharging his duty as such public servant, or in consequence of anything done or attempted to be done by such person to the lawful discharge of his duty as such public servant, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

All above sections are to be read with Section 7(1)(A) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1953:
“with intent to cause any person to abstain from doing or to do any act which such person has a right to do or to abstain from doing, obstructs or uses violence to or intimidates such person or any member of his family or person in his employ, or loiters at or near a place where such person or member or employed person resides or works or carries on business or happens to be, or persistently follows him from place to place, or interferes with any property owned or used by him or deprives him of or hinders him in the use thereof, or. . .”

 

NEWS FLASH- 1000s Arrested in Kalpakkam anti-nuke protests: Tamil Nadu


LATEST UPDATE

BY  nityanand jayaraman


Kalpakkam Protests; Kalpakkam Arrests

G. Sundar Rajan, a friend and co-activist, is currently travelling to Singaperumal Koil in Kanchipuram District to meet Abdul Samad — one of the organisers of the resistance to the expansion of nuclear capacity in Kalpakkam nuclear park. Samad is one of nearly 2000 people who have been detained in about six different locations for organising a hunger strike and blockade of the Kalpakkam nuclear complex. Villagers living in the areas surrounding the Madras Atomic Power Station are protesting against the expansion of the nuclear complex, and have said that they will not tolerate the addition of any new facilities in Kalpakkam. A 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor has been under construction for nearly a decade, and villagers have said that this plant must be abandoned. They have also condemned the dumping of radioactive waste within the premises. Additionally, they have demanded that the entire share of electricity produced at the MAPS complex should be distributed to nearby villages. They pointed out that it is vulgar that the local villages suffer 10 hour shortages while Kalpakkam township, more than 10 kilometres away enjoys 24-hour electricity.

 

 

BREAKING NEWS- Anti-Sterlite Protestors Arrested en Mass in Thoothukudi


 

 

Update 12 noon:MARCH 28, 2013 

Reported by Nityanand Jayaraman

Speaking on phone from Chandra Mahal (a wedding hall) where more than 200 people are detained by the police, Fatima Babu — one of several organisers of the protest — said that the rally demanding Sterlite Copper’s closure was massively attended. At the time of her arrest at around 1145 a.m., at least 7 bus loads of people had been removed from the roads and taken to various locations for detention. The arrests were continuing as more and more people were joining the procession. According to Fatima Babu, by the time of her arrest, nearly 5000 people had gathered. Shops in Thoothukudi, including all vegetable markets, jewellery stores, provision and small stores, have downed their shutters responding to the call join to the strike demanding Sterlite’s closure. Lorry, autorickshaw, taxi and van drivers too stayed away from the roads in solidarity.”I cannot estimate the number of people that are part of the strike, because there are people as far as I can see, and more are coming,” said Maharajan, a party worker with Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK). MDMK’s leader is one of the political figures who gave a call for the rally demanding closure of the copper smelter. The strike has representation from the Conch Coolie (Divers) Association, Anna Bus Stand Autorickshaw Drivers Welfare Association, All India Drivers Welfare Association, Tamilnadu Merchants Federation (led by Vellaiyan), and Anna Bus Stand Taxi drivers Association.

 

Press Release on Arrest of Scientist Mr Gopal in Kerala #UAPA #draconianlaws


Press Release
Jan 1, 2013
Chennai

We the undersigned professors, scientists, writers and rights activists are very much shocked to see the Kerala police picturing Mr.Gopal who was arrested at Mavelikara on December 29, 2012 along with six others as an extremist. Gopal was a former scientist in Atomic Research Centers in Kalpakkam and Mumbai. He is a well known civil rights activist in Tamilnadu and is an active member in the Committee for the Protection of Civil Rights (Tamil Nadu).

He was never arrested before and no charges or cases are pending against him. He never went underground and no such look out notice had been issued against him as described by the Kerala police and published in some news papers. We condemn Kerala police for spreading such an abuse against a reputed scientist and social activist.

We understand that out of the seven arrested, five of them are framed under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. We are much worried about the indiscriminate use of such a draconian preventive detention act against activists who have gathered in a hotel room to discuss some political issues of public interest.

We demand that the Kerala police should stop spreading abusive rumors against scientist Gopal and should apologize for having pictured him as an extremist and terrorist. We also demand that all those arrested in Mavelikara on 29th December should be released unconditionally and all the cases against them should be withdrawn.
We also feel that a national debate should be initiated about such vindictive usage of UAPA against Human Rights and Social Activists all over India.

Prof.A.Marx, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Tamilnadu Chapter,
Ko.Sugumaran. Federation for Peoples Rights, Puduchery UT,
K. Manoharan (S.V.Rajadurai), Writer and Senior Human Rights Activist, TamilNadu,
Prof. Praba. Kalvimani, Association for the Protection for the Tribal Irulas, Tindivanam,
Prof. Dr. P. Sivakumar, Former Principal, Govt. Arts Colleges, TamilNadu,
V.Natarajan, Former Scientist, Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam,
Prof. M. Thirumavalavan, Former Professor of English, Govt. Arts Colleges, Tamilnadu,
Prof. S. Kochadai, Peoples Union for Civil liberties, Karaikudi,
Prabanjan, Eminent Tamil Writer, Chennai,
V. Geetha, Eminent Writer and Scholar, Chennai,
Advocate Rajini, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Madurai,
Advocate Manoharan, High Court, Chennai,
Dr. V. Pugalenthi, Medical Practitioner, Kalpakkam,
Venkat, Scholar, Madras Institute for Developmental studies, Chennai,
Advocate A. Mohamed Yusuff, National Secretary, NCHRO, Madurai,
S.Ramanujam, Writer and Translator, Chennai,

 

Dear Prime Minister, are you listening to the right people, Sir?


REBUTTAL TO ‘SAFETY’ CLAIMS MADE BY PM MANMOHAN SINGH ON MAY 16, 2012

Anuj Wankhede

The Prime Minister of India – on Wednesday May 16, 2012- made a statement on the floor of the House regarding the safety of the civilian nuclear facilities in the country.

Even WITHOUT a natural disaster, here is a list of publicly available Civilian Installation incidents that have already occurred within the country.

How dare he mislead the nation in this way? Nuclear accidents are not road and railway accidents, which happen almost daily in our country.

Why are you considering data only AFTER Fukushima? And telling the House that we are safe?

Here is our previous to Fukushima record -

4 May 1987 – Kalpakkam
Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam.
Refueling accident ruptures the reactor core resulting in a two-year shutdown.

10 Sep 1989 – Tarapur, Maharashtra
After operators at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station find reactor leaking radioactive Iodine at more than 700 times normal levels, repairs to the reactor take more than a year.

13 May 1992 – Tarapur, Maharashtra
A malfunctioning tube causes the Tarapur Atomic Power Station to release 12 curies of radioactivity.

31 Mar 1993 – Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh
The Narora Atomic Power Station suffers a fire at two of its steam turbine blades, damaging the heavy water reactor and almost leading to a meltdown.

2 Feb 1995 – Kota, Rajasthan
The Power Station leaks radioactive helium and heavy water into the
Rana Pratap Sagar River necessitating a two-year shutdown for repairs.

22 Oct 2002 – Kalpakkam
Almost 100 kg radioactive sodium at a fast breeder reactor leaks into a purification cabin, ruining a number of valves and operating systems.

Sir, you ‘may’ be a honorable man. But then who is giving you wrong information? As a man of economics, you may not be aware of the seriousness of these incidents.

We, the citizens of the country, fear for the worst, especially considering the disastrous experiences of past accidents and natural disasters in India.

We do not expect timely relief.

We do not expect evacuation.

We do not expect rehabilitation.

We do not expect compensation.

We do not expect justice.

We do not even expect truth from the establishment.

We ONLY EXPECT YOU TO STOP THIS NUCLEAR MADNESS.

We will tell you the ways to progress without Nuclear Energy. We have enough scientists who say NO to nuclear power and who are willing to show you the way.

Are you listening, Sir?
Your democracy asks you!

The Great Indian Nuclear Maya


By Saraswati Kavula

28 March, 2012
Dianuke.org

Like the philosophers say, we, the people of India, are surrounded by “Maya” – an illusion: and that illusion today is Democracy. Under this illusion we think, we the people are the ones who decide who “rules” us, we think innocently too that ‘we the people” are the decision makers, king makers. In our sad state of minds, we think that this great country has a democracy – that is “by the people, for the people, of the people’ – meaning the people are supreme. However, the Indian voter is supreme only till such time; he trudges to the electoral booth and makes his thumb print. In many a places, even that is a mere illusion, for the ones who have the ‘muscle power” will decide who wins – voting themselves to power. Then there is this greater illusion that is created – with money, liquor, sarees, kumkum boxes – that this entire exercise is a celebration of people’s power – no wonder then that our election jamborees are called, “election festivals” in some parts of the country.

Thence, the so called “elected representatives” of the people, thus “elected” to power, with promises like supplying of TV sets, surely keep their promises of “providing every house with a TV set”. So, that they may numb people’s minds with the constant bombarding of mind numbing, programs. Is it any wonder then that people, who think they have “elected” their leaders, finally have to “bite the bullet” literally, when it actually comes to asserting their democratic and human rights?

What has happened in Tamil Nadu, yesterday, is the greatest example of this illusion called “Indian democracy”. Purichchi Talaivi, Amma as she is fondly called, has finally decided that the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant is absolutely safe and has also stated that the local people’s fears have been allayed as far as the safety of the plant was concerned. Wonder, then why does she need a battalion of 3000 strong police force, to start the plant, or that the people who were peacefully protesting all these days have to be slapped with sedition cases? And then she adds that she is going to spend 500 crores for the development of Tirunelvelli district. Perhaps, that is the reserve fund for the treatment of the local people from cancers, failed organs, genetic mutations and other ailments which will surely follow in the near future once the plant starts operating. At least their situation is better than the people living near Kalpakkam, who are suffering silently – from cancers, genetic mutations and organ failures to name a few. No body made a promise of 500 crores to these people when Kalpakkam plant started. Like everywhere else, they were made a promise – of “progress, development and of course were told they were doing that in the interest of the nation”.

When I was discussing about the issue of Koodankulam with a friend, he said, that these plants were necessary for development of the economy. So, when I pointed out, about the impacts that the local people will have to face – his take was, “the local people must be told about the effects, and that their sacrifice is needed in the interest of the nation. And then with their consent, the plant should be started”. He too is under an illusion, that the powers that be will be “honest” with the public. The blatant lies that the Nuclear Industry across the world has been telling people, and the way our dear DAE has been convincing us about Atoms for Peace, is missed by the millions of “educated” Indians. Wonder how many of them will agree to “sacrifice” for the sake of the nation – “if they are told the truth about radiation effects” and if they come to know that their own children could be born with radiation impacted diseases?

But as I said, in this Great Indian Maya, we continue to allude ourselves that by saying, “all is well”, “all will be well”. Alas, radioactive elements and nature do not work according to the script unlike a bollywood movie. Therefore, while “we the people” used to happy endings, in our escapist movies, keep thinking, that “Indian Nuclear Industry” has had no accident till now, hence, the best in the world, there are ugly facts, that are hidden by the “make up” provided by the DAE and their likes. In case of Nuclear, there is no “happily ever after” situation – as till date not a single country has been able to figure out how to dispose off the tons of high level radioactive Nuclear waste, lying near the 435 nuclear power plants, and where low level radioactive poisons are routinely being released into the atmosphere and dumped into our oceans and seas. But, smug with our latest “illusion” about India becoming a “superpower”, our middle class thinks that there can be accidents in highly technologically advanced nations like Japan, USA, or Russia but it can Never happen in India!

Our Prime Minister thinks that making a loss of 1, 76, 000 crores to the national exchequer by his minister, is not a good enough case to prosecute him. Yet, he thinks that the people of the country, in whose interest he is supposed to work, for whose sake he should have taken a decision that would protect the current and future generations, feel the people of kudankulam are working against “national interest”. Hence, cases of sedition and conspiracy cases are being slapped. And his spin of “Maya” continues that the protesters have a vested interest, and have taken money from American NGOs! So, our dear Prime Minister, who incidentally never got “elected”, had been under the ‘illusion” that he was working in the “interest” of the nation, when he brushed aside the concerns of the Parliament and the entire country and signed the Indo-US nuclear deal. It’s another matter, that another deal helped him keep his “kursi” post the Indo-US nuclear deal. So, in this game of musical chairs and magic numbers, where anyone can come to power with the power of money, it is a wonder then that the “Indian people” who have been seeing this kind of tamasha for the last 6 decades, still believe in this great Indian Maya called, ‘Democracy”.

Accepting the Nuclear Liability Cap Bill according to the dictates of the Nuclear Powers and trying to pass it in the Parliament at any cost it self speaks of the “Sell out” to the Nuclear Lobby by the Prime Minister and his Government. However, today, he is trying to make us “believe” that all those who are standing up to save their lives, livelihoods and the lives of the future generations are doing anti-national activities. And ‘we, the thinking people’ believe him.

The claim that the “expert committee” has found the safety aspects absolutely up to the mark is another example of this “Maya”. The expert committee, is not an independent committee, and is headed by M.R. Srinivasan, a former chairperson of Atomic Energy Commission, and a very strong advocate of Nuclear Energy. So, is it any surprise that he would find the safety mechanisms of Koodankulam absolutely safe? That this is an absolutely new technology and not tested anywhere else in the world, and that this project got sanctioned, soon after and despite the accident of Chernobyl is another fact, that is not highlighted. The bigger question is who is telling us all these things: the state and the central governments and the ‘experts’ who work under the Department of Atomic Energy, which is directly controlled by the Prime Minister. So, how should we believe this Committee? But we must. Because this is the great Indian Maya!

So, our leaders, our bureaucrats, technocrats – all are trying to put us under this “maya’ or illusion, that come what may, Nuclear Industry in India is absolutely incident free and has a spotless record. While just in December 2009, 95 people have been affected by radiation impacts due to contamination of the drinking water with tritium at Kaigah NPP. The authorities dismissed that as “human mischief”. A flooding that occurred in 1994 in Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant, contaminated the nearby lake with radioactive elements, as the dam of the pond where the spent fuel is cooled, was breached. When I was in Kakrapar in 2010, the local people told me, “don’t go in there, that water has radiation”. But there was no warning sign announcing of the danger. This water flows on under a bridge and joins a stream. And here people are fishing and even bathing in that water. When asked if they knew that it was dangerous, the villagers replied, “Well no one told us that we should not use this water. The NPCIL always comes and takes samples, but never tells us the results. But, we do see occurrence of strange diseases in our village. Just a few days ago, four people died”.

So, the easiest way to maintain that ‘all is well’ is to not divulge any information at all to the public. And then say, “Indian Nuclear Industry” has a spotless record. And later on say, “we have allayed the fears of the people’ and then use 3000 strong police and military force, to “convince” the protesters that “all is well”. Thus, today, the great Indian public – (not the people of Koodankulam), believe that Nuclear is absolutely safe. And we shall continue to live under this “illusion” or “Maya” until another Fukushima could happen. Even then, I am not sure, once the 24 hour “breaking news” time is up, whether ‘we will realize the real dangers” of Nuclear radiation – that no body dies – immediately that is – only the death shall be slow and drawn out and painful and no one knows who will be next and shall haunt not one but hundreds of generations – creating a country of diseased people!

Saraswati Kavula is a Filmmaker-Activist and Farmer. She is also the Joint Convener, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Andhra Pradesh Chapter. A version of this article was published in Telugu Daily “Andhra Jyothi” -on 25th March 2012. Another recent article by Saraswati – Combating the Nuclear Lobby in India – can be accessed here.

 

DNA investigations: Deaths confirm cancer risk near N-reactors


Saturday, Jan 14, 2012, By Gangadhar S Patil | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

After being in denial for years, the department of atomic energy (DAE) has for the first time admitted that the deaths of its employees at the Kalpakkam nuclear site and their dependents were because of multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation.

In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query in October last year, the DAE said nine people, including three employees working at the Kalpakkam atomic reactor, about 70km from Chennai, died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. The department had earlier refused to divulge information despite an RTI query in 2010.

The risk to the lives of people working at the nuclear facilities at Kalpakkam came to the fore in 2003 when two of its employees — Mohandas and Ponniah — working at the reactor died of multiple myeloma after being exposed to nuclear radiation. DAE officials then denied that the deaths were because of overexposure to radiation.

While two people were detected with multiple myeloma when they were working at the reactor, another was found to have the rare form of bone marrow cancer after retirement. The RTI query revealed that 14 people, including 11 family members of employees at Kalpakkam nuclear facilities, have been detected with multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) officials, however, claim that there have been no deaths due to exposure to radiation at Kalpakkam. They even said the figure of people affected by radiation at the nuclear facilities was lesser than the national average of 1-4 per 1 lakh people.

“The figure of three employees at Kalpakkam having multiple myeloma during 16-17 years is not higher than the normal prevalence of such form of cancer among others, in India or abroad,” BARC said in its response.

Experts, however, said it was a faulty comparison and that it was not possible to compare such sensitive data to the national average. As per international standards, cancer cases because of radiation are computed by comparing people living in proximate villages to those living in villages far away from the nuclear facilities, said Dr V Pugazhenthi, a physician who has been practising in Kalpakkam for 20 years.

Going by international standards, a DAE-funded study by Dr Manjula Datta shows that the number of people in proximity to Kalpakkam nuclear facilities suffering from cancer is a cause of concern. DNA is in possession of the report that was never made public.

The report states that cancer cases in villages close to Kalpakkam are seven times higher (210 per 1 lakh people) compared to just (30 per 1 lakh people) in distant villages. Morbidity levels in areas near the nuclear reactor are 2-3 times higher than normal. The study covered 22 proximate villages (within 8km radius) and three distant villages (50km from the reactor site).

“Several cases of cancer due to nuclear radiation have come up in the vicinity of the Kalpakkam nuclear reactor, but they were never reported. Even when they were reported, the government refused to acknowledge them,” said VT Padmanabhan a researcher in health effects of radiation and member of the European Commission on Radiation Risk.

“Dr Datta’s report is one of the best independent surveys carried out to date. Going by its data, it is clear that radiation causes cancer.”

Data sought from the DAE under a separate RTI reveals as many as 244 Kalpakkam employees and their dependents were detected with various types of cancer between 1999 and 2009. Most people affected were in the 41-60 age group and included men as well as women. During 2000-2010, 19 cases of thyroid diseases were detected. Experts said thyroid diseases are common among people living in and around nuclear reactor sites.

BARC officials, however, said the 244 cancer cases and mortality rates among Kalpakkam employees were not different from those seen among the general population.

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd officials did not respond to questions mailed by DNA to their official ids despite several reminders.