Just A Word Away, From Dr. Abdul Kalam to Women of Idinthakarai

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 ( anithasharma2007@gmail.com).

Are We Not Alive: Women’s Voices from Kudankulam

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 31, 2012

Guest post by ANITHA. S

As I sit here in my home village of Idinthikara watching the hot sun light up the waves rolling onto the shores, I think of the news that has hit the world today about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. All of you must have seen the news that Madras High Court has given the go-ahead for the KKNPP.

When we carried the dead body of democracy and burnt it in the outskirts of our village on Aug15th, 2012, little did we realize that so soon we would witness the real death of democracy. As this last nail is being tightened on our lives, we realize how insignificant has been our voice. But this has only strengthened our vow to be together.

As I think aloud with my friends gathered here rolling beedis and contemplating our future, I wonder who can give clearance without getting the consent of all of us who live so close to the plant. For over 2 decades, we have waited for some form of consultation with us about issues and doubts that have troubled our minds. Apart from generalized assurances with statements like It is Safe and There will be no problems, we have not been given any answers. Are we not still living here and are we not expected to live here? Or do we not exist or have become transparent like the people of Hiroshima who just vanished as they walked along the streets?

As we talk this afternoon with wind blowing over the Neem trees and bending the branches of the Drumstrick tree, it is our minds that are getting loaded-

We realize while cleaning the sardines and mackerels that came into our houses this morning that the Environmental Clearance given for the KKNPP is not appropriate or legal. What study can vouch for the safety of the KKNPP? Has the scientific team who did the study ever asked us about the fishes and other animals that have provided us with life for generations? Do they know the seasonality of the species, the variations in currents and tides, the changes in the seas as seasons change? Do they mention the rich wedge bank offshore that is home to many species that sustain our lives? What have they said about the abundant catch of prawns and lobsters? Who can decide that 45 degree centigrade or 35 degree centigrade is the permissible heat in which life forms will be safe? Will the water not contain substances with radiation? Is there a limit called permissible for radiation? Even children know that in the case of radiation, any dose is overdose.

We look at our homes and the sea avidly- because we are afraid this will all become an Exclusion zone as we have seen in Fukushima and Chernobyl. We might have to go away from here gathering all our belongings. Where will we go and how will we survive? We know of no life away from the sea. Our men are so dependant on the waters of the sea. Away from her, our health will wither, we will become wasters and gamblers not to speak of searching for the wrong kind of jobs. We need to be together to live in peace and harmony. Has any impact study ever mentioned this? Will a bit of money be able to buy us all that living in the community brings ?

Yes, please answer all these questions and we will reconsider our vow to struggle till KKNPP is closed. We suggest that all the  decision makers and technical support personnel connected to KKNPP stay with us in the village for a few days and explain and answer all our questions. Only then can our vow be broken…

[From conversations with Leema Navaras, Chellamma, Fransisca, Mary, Sundari, Annammal, Chinna Thankam, Tamilarasu, Ponnasakkiammal, Paramasithi, Melrit and Xavieramma and the innumerable women gathered in the Samara pandal at Idintakarai village. 
11.08.2012, 15-16.08.2012, 22.08.2012, 31st Aug 2012.]

Anitha.S ( anithasharma2007@gmailcom).

The Hypocrisy and Farce in the name of ENVIORNMENT

 The truck with the tree… Spreading “greenery” in the city , WHAT ??? carbon emissions and saving enviornment WAH !!!
 by Rajdip  Ray

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Green State

At the very outset, let me clarify that I’m not an environmentalist. Neither am I affiliated to any political party, though I’m likely to get branded as a Maoist after writing this article. I’m just an average twenty year old who has grown up in Calcutta and learnt to love the city and the state. And my curiosity propels me to question the numerous anomalies that I notice all around me. At this point of time, I think it is also of significance to mention that I’ve been working with a Non Governmental Organization of considerable repute, which strives to provide a better life to underprivileged kids belonging to the lower strata of society. This organization works hand in hand with the Kolkata Police, since many of these kids are rescued from situations where they are being beaten and tortured at home, or are being rehabilitated after committing minor crimes or resorting to substance abuse.
5th June. World Environment Day. A concept which has never been too popular in India. However, times are changing. Ever since Mamata Banerjee took oath as Chief Minister of West Bengal, she has promised to make Calcutta the equivalent of London, and Darjeeling the equivalent of Switzerland. Apart from the minor differences in weather, she has taken the rest all upon herself to ensure this happens. Which means, just like the West, it is now imperative for the state to celebrate World Environment Day. Fair enough. As long as it is benefitting the environment and the people, I see no reason to complain.
I was told to report to the Gariahat Police Station at 7.30 in the morning to help the NGO with a rally in support of the environment. When I asked how it is related to child rights which is supposed to be my only concern as an intern for the NGO, I was told that the police supports all our work, and hence it is our duty to support them when they ask for it, regardless of whether it is related to child rights or  not. So I arrived at 7.30 only to be greeted by a cop sitting languidly with a bunch of street kids. Gradually, however, the kids were brought in to fill up a bus, and by the time it started moving it was 8.45.
The rally was supposed to start at Harish Mukherji Park. However, due to the incompetency of one of the policemen who was guiding the driver, we managed to reach the Maidan. After waiting for a quarter of an hour, somebody had the bright realization that they had reached the wrong destination. So, everyone packed inside the bus again, and it left for Harish Mukherji Park. By the time we reached Harish Mukherji Park, the rally had already left. The same bright policeman was now struck with the idea of making the bus somehow catch up with the rally. So, once again, the bus turned and started moving towards Rabindra Sadan. By the time we reached Rabindra Sadan, the rally had come to an end and the people had already dispersed.
Everyone was handed an ID card of sorts in support of the environment and given free t-shirts, blue and white, like the rest of the city with the government’s name, and “World Environment Day: In Support of a Green Economy” printed in green. They also received caps with similar colours and designs. At this point of time, I’d like to point out that the recipients of these t-shirts are mostly illiterate and had no clue as to why they were there in the first place. They had been promised free food, and they had obliged by showing up. As people were told to put on their t-shirts, they haphazardly removed the plastic covers and threw them on the floor. The organizers of the event and the police stood watching, but no-one said a thing, as the entire area got strewn with plastic packets. So much for the environment!
Everyone was lined up, and made to enter the auditorium where a few hundred, maybe thousand, people, mostly people from the lower strata of society and party workers, were seated awaiting a special programme organized by the state government for World Environment Day. In the background, Tagore was playing, as nothing in this state is complete without flaunting a bit of our culture, is it? Interestingly, the previous day, when I had shown one of the kids a picture of Tagore and asked him if he knew who it was, he had no idea whatsoever. This kid, and several others like him, was now seated as part of this elite audience.
The dignitaries involved included the Commissioner of Police, the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Mr. Partha Chatterjee, the Minister of Transport, Mr. Madan Mitra, and the likes. Due to Mr. Chatterjee getting delayed, the audience were made to wait endlessly. Meanwhile, the master of ceremonies ranted on about the environment. She exclaimed how her son in Switzerland had told her about the steps taken by the Swiss government to cut out noise pollution, and how she felt the same must be implemented here. The mere mention of “Switzerland” excited more than half the audience, most of who are financially incapable of travelling beyond the borders of the city.
In the midst of such high end drama, I couldn’t help but notice the huge flex in the background with the government’s proclamation of aid to the environment taking up half of it, while Mamata Banerjee’s face covered the rest. Splendid use of resources to commemorate the occasion. Also, on stage, were a group of colour co-ordinated (white, blue and green) women who were present to sing and entertain the audience. As if the recorded Rabindrasangeet hadn’t already quenched my thirst for music on a day which almost hit 40 degree Celsius and the humidity was more than 80 percent.
Read more at Rajdip’s Blog


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