Women of Koodadankulam – We do not want to be branded terrorists #Vaw #Womenrights


From
The Women Of Idinthakarai
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
Idinthakarai
Thirunelveli District
Tamil Nadu
Dear Friends.

Today, April 16,2013, we women, men and children, young and old will assemble under the leadership of our Village Committee to address a matter of urgent concern for us and our movement. As you all would remember, we have been raising questions about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant based in Idinthakarai, the village closest to the plant for the past 600 days. Our questions and concerns have not been answered, our peaceful protests have been dealt with violence and suppression and we have been treated like enemies and anti-nationals.

Women protesting in Koodankulam

Women protesting in Koodankulam

Since yesterday we have been discussing the Department of Environment’s audacity in giving clearance to the impacts of water being discharged back to our life- giving oceans at high temperature and salinity. Don’t we all know that it will kill and harm the vital fisheries which provide food and livelihood to us all? We have also been very worried about the deal between the notorious Russian Company Zio Podolsk and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd which has led to the use of substandard materials in the making of KKNPP.

Last night as many of us tried to sleep in the Samara Pandal in the courtyard of the Lourdes Church we were disturbed by the sight of armed men entering the premises and loitering around. Not wanting to provoke them, we were able to understand by midnight that there is a drinking brawl happening just outside our village with the connivance of some local leaders and police. This is a matter of urgent concern for us as we see the beginning of violence and strife that they will instigate and nurture.

As you all know, our strength has been the steadfast commitment to peace and non-violence and we have chosen the path of informed and reasonable resistance after days of preparation and thought. One spark is enough to ignite the smoldering anger and frustration within us at the callous indifference, the criminal neglect and planned avoidance that we have been subjected to for years. We do not want to be victims of the divisive, annihilative forces of caste and religion, non-secular forces and criminalization of politics that has been happening in our country. We do not want to be branded terrorists and sacrifice our youth to become uncreative rebels whose life will languish behind bars.
This is what we want to reiterate today as we prepare for the crucial meeting. Our struggle is for justice and peace, for participation in democracy, for pursuing our livelihoods and life in this seashore village, for true development and progress.

Do stand by us and use all your capacity and contacts to build networks by which this message will reach the world

From Idinthakarai 16.04.2013

Anitha.S in conversation with friend in PMANE.
catastrophe64@gmail.com

 

#India – Children of Koodankulam: Growing Up With The Struggle #mustread


dianuke.org

Anitha S.

We are the children of the Porattam ( struggle) against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. As we write this it will be 588 days since we have been holding the porattam in the stage of the Lourde Matha church in the Idinthakarai village.

We have gone through many phases in the past one and a half years. The Fukushima disaster and the terrible sound of the trial run in the Nuclear power plant so close is what made all of us really think about the disaster which might befall us. Since then we have been asking the Government many questions regarding the impact of the Nuclear Power plant on our health, on the ocean life, air and soil that sustain us, on our livelihoods, on the safety of the region which has been areas with tremors, subsidence and tsunami… all to no avail! We have stood in the sea, walked the beaches, held press conferences, buried in the sand, danced, sung and shouted slogans, travelled to many places and spoken but there has been no answer.

koodankulamchildren1We have been chased, beaten and injured by tear gas shells. We have been held captive in our own villages with no bus or regular transport facilities. We have stayed for days either in our own homes or unable to go home as Police surrounded us. We have had Section 144 declared for months on end- now too it is on till April 9th after we had the siege on March 11 when more than 1000 boats went to sea. Our dear Uncle Ganeshan has been taken away ten days back from his village Koodankulam and locked up. Our fathers and brothers have stayed away from fishing for days. We have stayed away from school for weeks. Our mothers and aunts have been locked up for months in jail.

All because we asked some questions and questioned the Nuclear Power Plant. We raised many doubts about the intense and cruel suppression of our democratic rights to pursue our own lives in the homeland that belongs to us. We proclaimed we are not illiterate and stupid, but capable of understanding the hideous and unjust face of the representatives of people ( as they are called).

It has been a great learning experience growing up with the Porattam. We have met so many interesting people involve in true life struggles from all over the country. We have had activists, journalists, poets and film makers from Japan, Australia and UK visiting us with stories from their own country. We have seen so many films and pictures of the disasters connected to Nuclear Energy. We have been supported by students from various schools and colleges. We have met great people like Mahasveta Devi and V.R.Krishna Iyer, Aruna Roy and Medha Patkar all of whom have spoken for us and about us.

Today has been a happy day for us. We realize more than ever that Knowledge is the greatest power in the world. The fact that each one of us in the struggle have been made aware of the various details of the Nuclear lobby is what has gained us the true strength to pursue our goal. From the 8 year old to the 80 year old, we speak with clarity about why we are staying steadfast with the movement against Nuclear Energy.

Today we sat in the new Reading space that has been created in the stage – the real stage of our simple lives. The Reading space was formed with contributions that was made by people towards the book No: Echoes Koodankulam. We know that many of us are characters in the book and it has taken the message of our porattam far and wide. We are so thankful to all who gave their contributions so that this space was made possible. On the day the book was released, 2 of our close friends, Labika and Ignesh travelled all the way to Kochi to receive the book from Mahasveta Devi. She told them that is easy to say Yes, but we should learn to say No. The porattam has shown us the way to say No boldly and non-violently, persistently and continuously. We have heard that there has been small but very intense discussions about the anti-nuclear movement in our village in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and many parts of Kerala centering around No: Echoes Koodankulam. It has been heartening to hear about travels with the book.

We love to read and write. Today Melrit auntie who is in charge of the library gave us each a book and we all sat out in the sand and read. It was nice to see that many of the books had writings in both Tamil and English. Some of the mothers in the courtyard were reading it out to the younger ones. Many of the books had colourful illustrations that attracted the attention of the tiny tots. While reading and imagining the stories, many of us forgot the tension that has been pervading our lives for 580 days. We became children, with fantasies and dreams, with free thoughts and wild imaginations. This is real childhood. But some of us also know that we have to gain knowledge and excel in our studies so that the message of our dear porattam days will be always a source of inspiration. We have been tempered and seasoned by its power. We want to give back to these villages what it has given us- the sense of belonging and space, the self esteem and independence that our hard working forefathers have left us, the power of honesty and dedication that this coming together has taught us. For this we all are glad today- for the diverse spaces, including the Reading space this Porattam has given us.

Anitha.S ( catastrophe64@gmail.com) after travelling to Idinthakarai with second set of books for Reading space bought with Contributions to NO: Echoes Koodankulam. Conversations with Ignesh, Labisha, Labika, Shobhana, Selja, Shyamili, Pinochio, Anselvam, Sundari, Chellamma, Mary, Leela ,Rani, Meera ,Udayakumar, Milton, Pushparayan, Kebiston.

Thanks to Tulika team ( Chennai ) and the Sudarshan Book Centre, Nagercoil for their help and support.

 

 

#India- Govt Bluffing the Country on Koodankulam Safety: M G Devasahayam


After the recent high-level pronouncements about Koodankulam and repeated reassurances from the DAE as well as the Prime Minister himself, DiaNuke.org spoke to M G Devasahayam, the retired civil servant and energy policy expert, who also heads the independent expert’s panel supported by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy(PMANE) in Koodankulam. Here is his interview:

M G Devasahayam
M G Devasahayam
Shri M. G. Devasahayam is a former IAS and Managing Trustee, Citizens Alliance for Sustainable Living, Chennai
Recent articles byShri Devasahayam:

1. What do you think has been behind the nuclear establishment’s repeated postponements of KKNPP’s commissioning?

I feel that despite their bravado, the nuclear establishment is jittery, being torn between relentless Russian pressure and persisting public protest. Never before have they been so intensely challenged and they know they cannot afford to make even small mistakes. And since absolute perfection is virtually impossible in any technology, let alone nuclear, they are not sure about its commissioning.

Besides, the matter is pending in Supreme Court and there is every possibility of an unwritten and undeclared assurance that the government lawyers have given to the SC that NPCIL will not proceed towards making this reactor critical and raise power level until the SC judgement is given. And yet, the government would not like to admit this openly because it will be an admission that Udayakumar and PMANE have succeeded in at least temporarily halting the project progress.

Hence the repeated postponements

2. The DAE Chairman has said everything is safe in Koodankulam and it is their extra efforts to ensure safety which is causing the delay. There have been reports of German and Ukrainian experts being flown in and also rumors of a blast. Do you think doubt the KKNPP’s design safety?

If the design is safe and secure and the nuclear establishment is so sure of it why don’t they share the plant safety report at least with experts. Them not doing it only creates doubts. As a layman, I have a lurking suspicion that the design/technology is unproven and in the process of fuel loading NPCIL has come across several glitches which they are unable to satisfactorily fix. After all too much of secrecy has its own after-effects.

3. The Supreme Court is still hearing the case. What are the major issues being raised there?

Supreme Court has completed hearing and has reserved orders. The major issues before SC are:

i. In 1988 India signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement with erstwhile USSR to set up the two 1000MWe VVRS nuclear reactors at Kudankulam. This agreement was signed on the premise that the spent fuel from the project would be shipped back to USSR for treatment and disposal. Accordingly Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) issued Environment Clearance (EC) on 09-05-1989. Based on this EC, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) issued site clearance for the project on 10-11-1989 meaning that when EC was issued, the plant site had not even been finalised! This is gross illegality.

ii. In the Supplemental Agreement signed with Russia in May, 1998, DAE changed the basic scope of the project by agreeing to retain the spent-fuel in India probably within the plant itself. Since spent fuel is highly radioactive and very toxic, its handling and storage involves very high risks and serious environmental implications. Due to these changed conditions DAE should have approached MoEF for a fresh EC which it failed to do. Instead, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCL) went ahead with the construction of the project in violation of Environment Protection Act, 1986 (EPA). This was a serious statutory violation that called for cancellation of EC and stoppage of construction of the project. This was not done by the MoEF and the construction commenced and continued.

iii. When the EC was issued, it was assumed that cooling water for the project would be drawn from Pechiparai reservoir, whereas the source was later changed to a seawater desalination plant. This substantial change in fresh-water source would make it necessary for DAE to approach MoEF for clearance under CRZ Rules. There was further urgency because under the 1998 agreement high-quality fresh water was critical to keep the spent-fuel in safe storage. By not doing this DAE has violated the EPA.

iv. Project construction should not have started without prior Consent for Establishment (CFE) of the nuclear reactors at Kudankulam. NPCIL applied for CFE as an afterthought on 30-12-2001 and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) granted it on 25-02-2004 without any application of mind. This defeated the very purpose of CFE and its relevance to safety and environmental conservation aspects. Thus, the project as it stands today is the outcome of several illegalities that impinge on the local environment as well as the health and the safety of the people living in its vicinity.

v. NPCIL has not carried out risk analysis for the worst case scenario based on Fukushima experience to assess the consequences up to 30km and even beyond depending on the direction and velocity of wind. From the time of the original EC in 1989, the local conditions such as population growth have changed significantly and such studies are imperative to understand the implications of an accident. In the absence of such a comprehensive analysis, it will be unsafe to start the reactor units.

vi. As the initiator of the project, DAE should have reviewed the safety norms of KKNPP on the basis of Fukushima experience and redefined the boundaries of the Emergency Plan zoning system to bring the same in line with international best practice and the guidelines formulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This has not been done.

vii. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), created post-Tsunami 2004, is a statutory body chaired by the PM himself that has issued unambiguous guidelines on the institutional structures to be set up for handling nuclear accidents. This calls for State-level and District-level DMAs, providing nuclear shelters for the affected people, hospitals for medical care as well as training and orientation to the officials, local Gram Sabhas and the project affected people (PAP) to respond immediately to disasters and evacuate to safer places in case of accidents. None of these have been complied with and Tirunelveli Destrict where KKNPP is located has no such plan or Authority.

vii. Though the Government claims that KKNPP is 100% safe, yet the Russian reactor manufacturer company does not trust its own reactor and has refused to share any part of civil liability in case of an accident due to defect in the reactor. Government of India (to appease that Russian company and Russian Government) has signed an agreement with Russia stating that in case of an accident the public exchequer or the tax payers would foot the bill (that might run into lakhs of crores of rupees) while the Russians would be indemnified.

vii. AERB as it functions is not an independent regulatory body. Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) has come out with a scathing report about the ‘lapses in safety measures’ by the AERB posing ‘grave threats.’ CAG has highlighted several lapses by AERB: Non-preparation of a nuclear and radiation policy; no safety documents as recommended by two expert committees; no decommissioning plan which is extremely critical for public safety and non-adoption of international safety standards and practices. Typical example of AERB’s servility is the fact that NPCL was allowed to go ahead with fuel loading without implementing the 17 safety measures recommended by the post-Fukushima taskforce appointed by the Government of India. For several months NPCL has been telling AERB that it would implement these 17 safety measures by October-November 2012. AERB counsel stated before the Madras High Court that these 17 measures would have to be implemented before any further clearance was given. However, on 10.08.2012, AERB gave initial fuel-loading clearance even while 11 of these safety recommendations were yet to be implemented.

4. Do you think the DAE is misleading the Supreme Court?

DAE has tied itself in knots in the SC. A careful reading of the affidavits filed by AERB, NPCIL and MoEF clearly brings out the fact that no approvals as mandated by the Rules framed under Environmental Protection Act 1986 have been obtained after complying the leagal requirements. What they have got are only patch-works of Environment Clearance (EC) dated 09-05-1989 which was not under any of the EPA Rules all of which have been notified post-1992.

5. The PM has recently said that people’s safety comes first and nuclear energy can wait. How do you respond to this?

As far as nuclear power is concerned Prime Minister has been hypocritical in his statements and actions and does not carry much credibility.

6. As the head of the independent experts’ team in Koodakulam, what do you think are the minimum requirements which must be ensured before commissioning?

Given the series of illegalities and irregularities, lapses and regulatory capture, MoEF should step into the scene and enforce the EPA-1986, revoke the EC given in 1989 and direct NPCIL to undertake a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as per extant Rules which include full public hearing among the Project Affected People. As part of the EIA, NPCIL should be mandated to carry out comprehensive life & livelihood risk analysis on the PAP and the risks of even low-intensity radiation exposure on marine ecosystem. Before MoEF issues fresh EC, NDMA’s norms should be put in place and tested for its effectiveness by an independent agency.

7. People’s movement in Koodankulam is still on. Other places like Kovada, Jaitapur etc are also rising in protest. In coming days, what future do you see for nuclear power in India and what is the scope for replacing it with Renewable Energy and Energy conservation.

Relevance of nuclear power is linked to country’s energy security and the overall welfare of our communities. The present Indian state is clueless on both counts. In the event there is neither any blue print nor any vision as to how energy could serve the cause of people’s welfare and not just the interests of a few investors and MNCs. Hence the rabid argument by the Indian state that nuclear power is essential to bring electricity for the masses While many countries with large percentage of their electric power coming from nuclear source are phasing out, India with a measly 2.5% share is clinging to it like leech, ignoring the massive Renewable Energy potential that the country has.

Germany is the most prominent among these countries which is determinedly moving away from nuclear power. It has a clear plan to reduce the share of nuclear power from the present 23% to zero in 2022 without having to compromise on the energy security or to give up its position as a world economic power-house. And it is planning to eliminate the nuclear power without adding other fossil fuel or dam based power plants. This calls for some scrutiny so that lessons could be learnt

Germany gives six major reasons for switching to renewable energy and to increase energy conservation:

A – Fighting climate change

B – Reducing energy imports

C – Stimulating technology innovation and the green economy

D – Reducing and eliminating the risks of nuclear power

E – Energy security

F – Strengthening local economies and providing social justice

Germany has identified five main problems with nuclear power:

1. the risk of a nuclear disaster at a plant;

2. the risks of proliferation (plutonium from nuclear plants for military purposes)

3. the risk of radiation from the storage of nuclear waste;

4. cost, with nuclear being unbankable at the moment – banks will not finance the construction of new nuclear plants because the cost is too high in comparison to renewables, so all plants currently on the drawing board in Western countries have massive state support; and

5. the limited availability of uranium resources.

Germany considers the third risk is even greater because this will affect future generations, who will not even be able to consume the nuclear power that is produced today but will be forced to deal with the waste. Even when all nuclear fission plants have been shut down, mankind will have to protect its repositories of spent nuclear fuel rods for up to 100,000 years.

There are also several other reasons:

  • Nuclear power is far more limited than renewables. Nuclear plants produce electricity but not useful heat or motor fuel, as in the case of renewables
  • Germany rejects nuclear power because of the risks, the costs and the unsolved waste issue. In ad­dition, nuclear power does not have the potential to play a major role in the world’s energy supply.
  • With 30 kM of evacuation zone around its nuclear power plants, as in the case of Fukushima, it is estimated that about 12% of its population would be affected; with 80 kM evacuation zone as recommended by US around Fukushima about 51% of its population would be affected. A pretty compelling reason for saying NO to nuclear power.
  • Nuclear is simply too small a player on global markets; it does not even account for six percent of global energy supply right now, and more plants are scheduled to be taken off-line over the next decade than are expected to go online.
  • If it is feasible to gradually transition to a renewable energy supply, then it seems irresponsible to have nu­clear plants today – and unethical to pass on these risks to future generations.
  • Renewables will reduce dependency on energy imports, making India less vulnerable to rising prices for fossil fuels and to political influence from abroad.
  • Renewable energy can consist of numerous small, distributed units, but it can also consist of a small number of large, central plants. In the latter case, the power stations can be gigantic solar arrays in deserts or large wind farms on coastlines.
  • Local ownership of renewables provides great economic payback to investing communities. Energy efficiency and renewables together give the poor a way around higher prices for fossil fuels.
  • Another important aspect of the energy transition is social justice. Energy efficiency in particular not only helps promote domestic added value, but also reduces energy poverty.

Key findings of German Energy Transition Report – Arguments for a renewable energy future (www.energytransition.de)

a. The German energy transition is an ambitious, but feasible undertaking.

b. The German energy transition is driven by citizens and communities

c. The energy transition is Germany’s largest post-war infrastructure project. It strengthens its economy and creates new jobs.

d. With the energy transition, Germany aims to not only keep its industrial base, but make it fit for a greener future.

e. Germany demonstrates that fighting climate change and phasing out nuclear power can be two sides of the same coin.

f. The German energy transition is here to stay.

g. The energy transition is affordable for Germany, and it will likely be even more affordable for other countries.

These are more applicable to India than Germany and the potential for RE and energy conservation is far more in India than in Germany. Yet we are mad in pursuing destructive nuclear energy, while playing just lip service to Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation.

8. How should the anti-nuclear movement proceed in India in the future?

From protest to proactive advocacy of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. We must expose the hollowness of India Energy policy driven more by alien interests and kick-backs than national interest and indigenous potential. Advocacy and awareness building should be the major tool in this strategy. Since mainstream media is unlikely cooperate in this we need to develop social media as an effective and powerful tool.

Koodankulam_PTIHeavy police deployment in Koodankulam (file picture, courtesy: PTI)

 

#India- Koodankulam: A Nuclear Plant in My Backyard #mustshare


 Amirtharaj Stephen

January 16, 2013 · , gallin.in

I come from a village called Kavalkinaru in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, not very far from Kanniyakumari. My father was employed at a Heavy Water Plant in Tuticorin and I spent the first 24 years of my life in the Atomic Energy Township there. I was always told by the people in my township that nuclear energy was safe and that it was the future. I believed them.

In 2001, construction of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) had begun at a distance of about 18km from my village. In 2009, I was living in Bangalore and working as a magazine photographer, when I heard about a leakage at the Kaiga nuclear plant that exposed 50 workers to radiation. Later when I went to Cambodia for a photography workshop, I found my fellow participants discussing the issues of nuclear safety and weighing the pros and cons of nuclear energy.

Many in the region did not care much about the power plant or the effect it would have them until 2011. The tsunami that shook Japan in March that year and the subsequent Fukushima disaster however caused panic in the region. The villagers, already severely affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, began raising a lot of questions on the safety of nuclear power.  KNPP was nearing its completion just about that time and the people living in the vicinity of the plant started fearing a similar catastrophe in their region.

The Indian government, on its part, did little to allay the fears of the villagers regarding safety of the plant and preparedness in the event of a natural disaster. The response has always been ambiguous and completely lacked transparency on plant safety measures.

Since then the villagers have been involved in a non-violent protest against the nuclear power plant. Idindhakarai, a village located very close to the plant, has been the epicenter of the protest. The villagers, mostly fishermen and farmers, have been protesting against the plant for more than 500 days at Idindhakarai. They are also worried about the ecological impact the plant would have on the region. The Gulf of Mannar, after all, is an ecologically fragile region.

The Tamil Nadu state government, which took sides with the villagers initially, did a U-turn and tried to crush the agitation by using all means available at its disposal. Police force was deployed against the protestors to suppress and dissolve the protest completely. All villages within a radius of seven kilometers from plant have been under curfew since March 2012. Cases were filed against members of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the anti-nuclear protest group, and any villager found taking active part in the agitation. Many of them were charged with sedition and waging a war against the nation.

This is the story of the brave fight being put up by the villagers.

Idinthakarai village with the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) seen in the background. May 21, 2012.

Kids belonging to fishermen families play on the beach in Koothankuli village. July 02, 2012.

A fisherman brings his boat to the fish auctioning center to sell the day’s catch. Every Wednesday, villagers collect 10% of their earnings as their contribution towards running the protest. The Indian government, which has accused that the protests are being funded by the Scandinavian NGOs to run the protest, could not produce any proof. The villagers maintain accounts of all funds collected and spent by them. October 18, 2012.

Villagers from the Koothankuli, prevented from going to Idinthakarai by the imposition of a curfew, gather in front of the church and shout anti-government slogans. May 10, 2012.

Police forces assemble  in front of the KNPP before going on rounds in Koodankulam village after the imposition of a curfew. May 10, 2012.

Villagers take a holy procession around the Koothankuli village while praying that the nuclear power plant be closed down. Most people from the region are devout Roman Catholics. May 14, 2012.

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Villagers observe a candle light vigil to pay homage to Hiroshima victims.  August 06, 2012.

Children from Idinthakarai with the post cards they have written to the Russian Ambassador requesting Russia to stop providing technical support to the project. August 06, 2012.

Women on their way to laying siege on seashore near KNPP. September 09, 2012.

Thousands of villagers protesting against the commissioning of the plant sleep on the seashore with their kids near KNPP.  September 09, 2012.

Men warm themselves by a bonfire while on an overnight protest against the commissioning of the plant. September 09, 2012.

Villagers cry and pray during a cleansing ceremony which was performed after police forces broke the idols of the Mother Mary and urinated in the church. September 15, 2012.

_MG_4943-Edit

Fishermen lay siege to Tuticorin Port and block passage of ships to protest the attack on villagers in Koodankulam  by police forces. September 22, 2012.

A woman prays to Mother Mary at the church after the police attacked villagers during the siege. September 11, 2012.

Thangamma, a 70- year-old woman was on hunger strike for over 7 days along with 260 other women demanding that the nuclear power plant be shut down. May 05, 2012.

Women plead with Dr. S.P. Udayakumar, leader of Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy(PMANE) to reconsider his decision to surrender to the police. Within few minutes he was lifted from the dias by a group of youngsters and carried in a boat to a safe hideout. September 11, 2012.

A coast guard aeroplane flies low over protesting villagers who ventured into the sea. September 13, 2012.

Amirtharaj_Stephen0013

Napolean, a resident of Idinthakarai, runs after being attacked by the police. September 10, 2012.

Xavieramma, a resident of Idinthakarai, cries out for help after being chased into the sea with no place to run. She was later helped out by the security forces. September 10, 2012.

Children of Sahayam cry during his funeral mass. He fell off a boulder he was standing on inside the waters due to fear when the coast guard aeroplane flew very low and was killed by the impact. September 17, 2012.

Bio:

Amirtharaj Stephen is a documentary photographer based in Bangalore. He is currently documenting the anti-nuclear protests around his native village in Tamil Nadu. He had been a participant in  the Angkor Photo Workshops and a mentee under Lucie Foundation’s E-pprentice program. He is also a foodie who loves to explore the rural cuisines.

http://www.lightstalkers.org/amirtharaj_stephen

Asserting Freedom, Celebrating Resistance: New Year 2013 at Kudankulam #Videos


Anushka Meenakshi, a Chennai-based supporter and film-maker, has recorded 7 interviews with people who returned from Idinthakarai

 

#India-Villagers Wail Against Nuclear Power


Fishermen and their families protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Credit K. S. Harikrishnan/IPSFishermen and their families protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Credit K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS

KUDANKULAM, India, Jan 6 2013 (IPS) – Mahalakshmi, a housewife married to a farmer, is afraid for her family’s future. The fifty-two-year-old woman is also frustrated that Indian authorities have “betrayed” poor villagers.

A huge nuclear power plant under the control of the government-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is the source of her woes.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), situated 24 kilometres from the world famous tourist town of Kanyakumari on the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, is likely to be commissioned this month.

Speaking to IPS, Mahalakshmi and dozens of women in Kudankulam, a village in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, charged that the energy project would ruin their futures, homes and livelihoods.

The plant is slated to produce an initial 1,000 megawatts of power, according to the NPCIL, no small contribution to a country saddled with a severe energy deficit.

But the proposed nuclear station has brought sleepless nights to scores of locals, who fear a disaster similar to the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in March 2011, and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.

Locals have risen up in widespread protest over the proposed plant, which they claim has not been equipped with the best possible safety measures.

One of these protestors, Arul Vasanth, told IPS that politicians, scientists, and bureaucrats have made every effort to crush agitation against the potentially lucrative KKNPP.

“We, the poor, are at the receiving end of all false promises given by the authorities,” he said. “The risk has been put on our shoulders so the people will aggressively fight till the end.”

Indeed, the vast majority of those participating in the protests live below the government-declared poverty line.

Opposition to the energy project first began when India inked the KKNPP deal with the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988.

Agitation gained momentum in 1997 when the country signed another agreement with Russia to revive the deal.

The controversial Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Credit K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS

Now, in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which drew the world’s attention to the horrific dangers of nuclear power, the people in Kudankulam have brought their fight into the open.

People from the Idinthakarai, Koottappalli, Perumanal, Koothankuli and Uoovri villages, located close to Kudankulam, fear health consequences arising from the plant.

Talking to IPS, well-known anti-nuclear activist K. Sahadevan questioned the efficacy of government measures to safeguard the health of local people living in the vicinity of the plant.

“Radioactivity-related health hazards are a major concern for the people residing near the plant,” he said, referring to a survey of houses very near to the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, which revealed a high prevalence of cancer and tumors.

Dr. Binayak Sen, human rights activist and member of the Planning Commission’s Steering Committee on Health, said in a statement after visiting the site that the Kudankulam plant posed serious health consequences, not only for those residing in the immediate vicinity, but for inhabitants of the entire region.

Opposition to the plant has created deep cracks in the villagers’ daily lives. Frequent protests by farmers, fisherfolk, students and coastal dwellers have sent a strong message to the authorities but simultaneously interrupted income-generating activities.

Explaining the ground situation in the villages, Peter Milton, an agitation leader in Idinthakari, told IPS that people are worried and frustrated about their future.

 

  • Farmers say the government has failed to compensate them for large swaths of arable land that have now been declared part of the official “construction site”.

 

 

One small-scale farmer who has suffered many bureaucratic hurdles in claiming compensation for his land told IPS he favours other sources of energy – such as wind farms – over the proposed atomic power station.

A group of students at St. Annes Higher Secondary School in Kudankulam also expressed distress over a future lived in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe.

“A disaster in the plant will eliminate our dreams. That is why we are agitating,” the students, who wished to remain anonymous, told IPS.

Meanwhile, police and intelligence agencies are stepping up their suppression of protestors. “The threat of the police has put more strain on our lives. Even students and women are not exempted from the harassment,” said Milton.

According to media reports, 269 persons have been arrested in connection with the agitation. Agitation leaders claim the number is much higher, with pending cases running into the thousands.

T. Peter, secretary of the National Fish Workers Forum, told IPS that many people have been taken into custody under the charge of sedition. He alleged that the establishment is trying to “sabotage” the protest movement and crush it with an iron fist.

“The fisher folk residing in the coastal area of Kudankulam are (acutely) aware about the impacts of a nuclear (accident) at the KKNPP. People living in coastal areas between Thiruvananthapuram and Tuticorin will be (particularly) affected if a disaster occurs,” he added.

The Russian envoy to India, Alexander M. Kadakin, branded the anti-nuclear protests “gimmicks” and “games” while speaking to reporters in Chennai.

Regardless, India’s highest judicial bodies have expressed alarm about the lack of safety measures at the proposed plant, going so far as to halt the process altogether.

Litigations are now pending before the Supreme Court of India and the National Green Tribunal.

In November, the Supreme Court instructed the Union Government to deploy all necessary safety measures at Kudankulam.

“There must be no compromise on safety and rehabilitation. We are making it absolutely clear that all the guidelines and safety measures for handling disasters must be put in place before the plant is commissioned,” according to Justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra.

Attempting to allay fears of a disaster, nuclear scientists have expressed satisfaction over the safety measures at the Kudankulam plant. Former Indian president and scientist Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam declared the plant to be safe, following extensive discussions with KKNPP officials and a thorough inspection of the plant’s safety features.

 

 

#India-The burden of being a dissent in democracy -Story of J Roslin #RIP


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By Tariq Abdul Muhaimin12/27/12, Newzfirst

 

In an age where the State defines its role as ‘emancipating’ and ‘empowering’, the plight of several oppressed individuals, some of whom have even succumbed to injuries obtained in the course of their struggle, remind us of the increasing exercise of authority and power by the State with an effort to contain the rising trend of ‘hitting the street’ or ‘raising a question’ over the efficient functioning of public institutions by concerned civil society members and groups.

Through a series of articles to be published over a period of time, NEWZFIRST will highlight the plight of many such activists and rights’ campaigners by speaking to the ones closest to them.

Starting from the most recent death of an anti-nuke activist who succumbed to health issues which only exacerbated during the period she spent in jail after she was arrested on charges of ‘waging war against the state’ and ‘sedition’, we go on to explore the stories of many others who experienced a similar – if not such dreadful – fate.

Story of J Roslin

As the anti-nuke struggle at Koodankulam enters the 500th day, we revisit the heart-wrenching tale of J Roslin, a 63-year old woman and mother of three, who died on 21 December at Idinthikarai, the nucleus of anti-nuke struggle against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).

J Roslin was among the 7 women who were randomly picked up from Idinthakarai beach during the police crackdown on anti-nuke activists, who were protesting the coming up of KNPP, on 10 September 2012.

She was put in Trichy women’s prison along with three other women – Xavier Ammal, Sundari and Selvi.

She was charged under sections 147 – Rioting, 145 – continuing in unlawful assembly, 163 r/w 144, 222, 252, 255, 294(b), 207 and 427 r/w 149 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), in the case for which she was arrested (Crl OP 15389/2012, Crime No. 349/2012, Offence date: 10.9.2012).

At the time of arrest, she complained about her ailing health. She said that she was extremely unwell and had been suffering with frequent bouts of vomiting, and needed urgent medical attention and diagnosis. These facts were also registered in the records, prior to her detention in Trichy prison.

However, she was not given adequate treatment in the prison and her requests for medical attention went unheeded.

“The very first day after she was arrested, she was vomiting and could not eat. During her stay in the prison, doctors visited her and prescribed some medicines, but her health continued to worsen”, Pushparayan Victoria, leader of Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), told Newzfirst.

“She was given I.V fluids once after which she felt little better. She complained to the Magistrate, who released her on conditional bail after 50 days”, Pushparayan added.

After she was granted bail in the case for which she was arrested, the police filed two more cases and prolonged her stay in prison.

She was charged under sections 121 (Waging war against the State), 124A (Sedition) and 142 (Unlawful assembly) of IPC in two different cases (Crl OP 15368, Crime No. 70/2012, Offence date: 16.2.2012 and Crl OP 15385, Crime No. 300/2012, Offence date: 11.6.2012).

“The police had kept several blank spaces in the list of accused for different cases, so her name was added there”, Pushparayan said.

She was finally released from prison on 30 October 2012, on the condition that she should sign her presence at a police station in Madurai.

As her condition worsened, it became impossible for her to visit the police station, and she was hospitalized in the Madurai General hospital. The doctors said that she had a serious illness. After staying there for about 10 days, she was moved to Idinthakarai where she died during the early hours of Friday, 21 December.

“She was a woman in her 60’s and was fighting for her livelihood; fighting for her children. She had no grudge against the nation. She was accused and arrested on false grounds. She was ill and could not even speak properly. She only came to the protest site to sit and watch. It is very unfortunate that the government is acting in such a ruthless way”, Pushparayan said in a tone of disappointment.

The protesters experienced police crackdown twice this year – once on 19 March and again on 10 September. Although there has been no crackdown since then, the villagers of Idinthikarai and Koodankulam have experienced restrictions in terms of mobility – both in and out of the area.

The police also detained several activists and foreign nationals in the last 2 months for trying to visit the protest site.

“The anti-nuclear struggle has been completely peaceful. There has been complete failure on behalf of the administration and judiciary. Here the people are trying to secure their livelihood and land, whereas the government is bent on helping the MNCs who are coming from other countries”, said Pushparayan.

Roslin, a victim of neglect and vengeance of the State, reminds us that having an opinion contrary to that held by the Govt., is a crime warranting imprisonment under harsh sections of IPC.

 

Protesters plan sea siege at Kudankulam on December 10, Human Rights Day


PTI

  • In this October 8, 2012 photo, fishermen shout slogans as they protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. Activists have planned a similar protest on December 10, 2012.
    APIn this October 8, 2012 photo, fishermen shout slogans as they protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. Activists have planned a similar protest on December 10, 2012.
  • A file photo of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy leader M. Pushparayan.
    The HinduA file photo of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy leader M. Pushparayan.

With the commissioning of the much-delayed Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project expected by this month-end, anti-nuclear activists are planning to lay siege to the facility on December 10 to press for scrapping the project.

“We will lay a siege to the Kudankulam nuclear plant on December 10, Human Rights Day. Our support organisations and some political parties are going to block the roads on that day. We will lay a siege from the seaside,” M. Pushparayan, a leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, spearheading the over year-long stir against KNPP, told PTI over phone.

The activists had on October 8 laid a similar siege to the site, pressing their demands.

“Our demands remain the same. Scrap the plant, release those who were arrested and stop the police control on our activists,” he said, adding fishermen and supporters from 10 fishing hamlets would take part in the siege.

Preparatory work is in full swing at Kudankulam, as the commissioning of the plant is expected during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin this month-end.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has already granted the plant its permission for the ‘second heat up’ — a process which will put to performance tests various systems of the nuclear reactor.

“We are busy with the preparatory works at the plant. But every step has to be reviewed by AERB. But it is possible to start the operation by the end of this month,” official sources had said.

According to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, units 1 and 2 of the project were initially scheduled to start commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively. But, as of October this year, units 1 and 2 have completed 99.63 per cent and 92.66 per cent of physical progress.

Commissioning of the first unit of the Indo-Russian project was originally scheduled for December last year but has been delayed due to protests.

The anti-nuclear activists on Saturday held a meeting at Idinthakarai, the epicentre of the protests for over a year, to plan the siege.

“Both the Centre and state governments are continuously violating the human rights of people from this area. The continuous promulgation of Sec 144 here is against the wishes of the fishermen and locals of this area,” S.P. Udayakumar, PMANE convenor, told reporters at Idinthakarai.

The siege was to highlight the “violations” of rights by the Central and State governments, he said.

Struggle committee members, village committee members and locals participated in the meeting.

 

Invite to Kudankulam to Celebrate the New Year 2013!


newyear

 

Dear friends/comrades,

 

We invite you join us in celebrating the arrival of the New Year 2013 at the coastal hamlets of Kudankulam, Tamilnadu.

The men, women and children fighting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant have caught the attention of the entire nation. Even while the Central and State governments are using their concerted powers to squash all opposition, the people’s struggle, led by PMANE (People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy), remain resolute to protect the present and future generations from the negative impacts of radiation. And this, they are doing by staking their very lives! The fisher people, farmers, traders and others in Kudankulam continue to organise boat protests, blockades outside the plant, rallies, and public meetings.

Keeping aside the debate around nuclear power, the people’s resistance and their unrelenting spirit ought to be celebrated– for their collective capacity to continue their peaceful struggle. Let all of us who believe in the struggle of the Kudankulam people come together to assert our freedoms, reclaim democracy, and celebrate the spirit of resistance.

We invite you to three days of conversations, songs, dance, music, poetry, films and more at Idinthakarai, Kudankulam from 30 December 2012 to 1 January 2013. Please find beneath the invite/call for the programme!

ENDORSE THE CALL. PASS THE WORD AROUND. JOIN US AT KUDANKULAM. CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE EXPENSES (We don’t need ‘foreign’ funds, we need yours!!! )

We look forward to celebrating the arrival of the New Year with you @ Kudankulam.

For programme related queries, confirmations, etc please contact:

 

Bhargavi: 09999563950/ 011 26680914/26687724; bhargavi@delhiforum.net

 

Nityanand Jayaraman: 09444082401; nity682@gmail.com

 

T Peter: 09447429243; peter.ksmtf@gmail.com 

In solidarity,

Vijayan MJ

 Celebrating the New Year-2013 @ Kudankulam  

Three days of conversations, songs, dance, music, poetry, films

and more at Idinthakarai, Kudankulam 

30 December 2012 to 01 January 2013

 ASSERTING FREEDOM; CELEBRATING RESISTANCE

“I want to go to Kudankulam on 01.01.2013 to be with the fisherfolk as well as the common people who are resisting the proposed nuclear power plant; a danger for the sea, the sand and the people… In fact the total environment will be threatened when nuclear power plant comes. The humanity, marine and animal life will be destroyed… I hope that Kudankulam, the very name, will set an example before Indian citizens and lead us towards the victory of humanity.”

Mahashweta Devi

 

An alternative world is emerging from the grassroots- through social movements and people’s resistance, through the power of ideas and practice. This emergence is always there though the scale of social movements and people’s resistance varies. It expands and contracts, it fragments and converges, and it goes through defeats and reorganising. Yet over a historical time it grows silently, incrementally and unevenly in many streams, in many movements and organisations, and erupts decisively through their confluence in revolutions.

People get drawn in by various motivations, interests and persuasions. At the core of all social movements and people’s resistance are always communities of activists, who carry a simple truth: the human capacity to change. This shared belief is fundamental, to be retained and nurtured through a sense of belonging.

There is always a frontline from where the power of domination and the state is confronted and struggled with to make way for social and political change; where people inspire, make sacrifices, families suffer and individuals are tested for their commitment.

The resistance at Kudankulam is one such frontline. We have to stand with them from everywhere. We can also be with them as they face suffering, loss and pain. As communities of activists, we can gift them with the power of belonging and the strength of our solidarity. All of us carry traditions of cultural and political celebration – a moment when differences remain subdued and belongings become pronounced. In bringing together the New Year celebration with a people’s movement at the frontlines, we make the personal political, celebration a form of protest, and belonging deeper and broader.

We invite you to three days of conversations, song, dance, music, poetry, films and more to stand in solidarity with the people in Idinthakarai, Kudankulam from 30 December 2012 to 1 January 2013. We look forward to celebrating the arrival of the New Year with you.

With best wishes and solidarity

Organising Collective for New Year @ Kudankulam

CHENNAI SOLIDARITY FOR KUDANKULAM | DELHI SOLIDARITY GROUP | KERALA SOLIDARITY FOR KUDANKULAM | PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY

 

For more details contact Organising Collective for New Year @ Kudankulam

Bhargavi: 09999563950/ 011 26680914/26687724; bhargavi@delhiforum.net

Nityanand Jayaraman: 09444082401; nity682@gmail.com

T Peter: 09447429243; peter.ksmtf@gmail.com
Vijayan MJ
General Secretary
Programme for Social Action (PSA)
Address: H-17/1 (Basement), Malviya Nagar,
New Delhi INDIA – 110017
Phones: + 91-11-26687725 (Direct), 26671556 / +91-9582862682 (Mobile)
Emails: vijayan@psa-india.netgs@psa-india.net
Web: http://psa-india.net

 

Koodankulam plant: Anti-nuclear activists questions government in SC


By PTI – NEW DELHI

04th December 2012

The anti-nuclear activists Tuesday criticised the government in the Supreme Court for exempting the Russian firm involved in setting up Koodankulam nuclear power plant from paying damages in case of mishaps and fixing Rs 1500 crore only as maximum liability on plant’s operator.

“The Rs 1500 crore liability violates the principle of strict liability based on the foundation of Article 21 of the Constitution,” advocate Prashant Bhushan told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, appearing for the anti-nuclear activists.

The submission prompted the bench to ask if in case of liability being more than Rs 1500 crore “will it be borne by the tax payers?”

“It will be perhaps be the burden on the tax payers,” it further observed.

The remarks were made when Bhushan argued that not only the Indian operator of the plant, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will have to bear the liability of Rs 1500 crore but it will also not have the right to recourse.

“Rs 1500 crore liability is for plant operator who has no right of recourse if the damage is due to the defect in the reactor supplied by the Russian company,” he said.

He questioned the foreign company from shying away from the liability.

During the hearing, the bench also took note of the submission that the project was cleared without the detailed study about its impact on the marine life.

“We would like to see the report on the marine life,” the bench said.

Meanwhile, the NPCIL placed before the bench the status report on implementation of 17 recommendations made by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on the safety and security of the plant after the Fukushima incident in Japan.

The Supreme Court court on November 21 had made it clear to the government that all safety measures for handling disaster must be put in place at the Koodankulam power plant before it is operationalised.

The apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions by anti-nuclear activists challenging the commissioning of the plant on the ground that all safety measures have not been put in place.

The corporation had said deep geological repository (DGR) for keeping nuclear waste is not needed now and it will be required only after a few decades.

A DGR is a nuclear waste repository excavated below 300 meters within a stable geologic environment. It entails a combination of waste form, waste package, engineered seals and geology that is suited to provide a high level of long-term isolation and containment without future maintenance.