#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.

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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.

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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

Madras High Court frowns on Ministers over Kudankulam nuclear power plant launch date #goodnews


 

Chennai, Aug 16 (IANS) With the protest against Kudankulam nuclear power plant entering its second year, the Madras High Court hearing two petitions against the project Thursday came down on union ministers, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

“Hearing the two petitions, the Madras High Court came down heavily on the union ministers, saying that they respect only the Supreme Court and not the other courts. The court also asked how central ministers can announce KNPP (Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project) commissioning date when a case is being heard,” P. Sundararajan, a lawyer, told IANS.

P.Sundararajan is junior to advocate M. Radhakrishnan representing G. Sundarrajan who has filed two petitions in the court challenging the consent given by the AERB and the TNPCB to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) that is building the plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here.

According to Sundararajan, the court also wondered why the AERB was in a hurry to clear fuel loading.

“The AERB gave its nod to NPCIL to load the fuel in the first reactor last week without ensuring the implementation of safety measures in the KNPP as recommended by an expert committee set up to review the safety aspects of Indian nuclear power plants in the wake of nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan,” Sundarrajan told IANS about his petitions.

He said the AERB had earlier submitted to the court in another case that it would issue clearances only after completion of review and resolution of reactor commissioning reports and issues relating to the KNPP, including the implementation of safety measures after the Fukushima accident.

Sundarrajan contends that the AERB has not applied its mind on the consent order issued by the TNPCB on the tolerance temperature limits for the KNPP effluent before giving its clearance for loading of the fuel in the plant’s first unit.

According to him, the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, state that thermal power plants using sea water should adopt systems to reduce water temperature at the final discharge point so that the resultant rise in the temperature of receiving water does not exceed seven degrees Celsius over and above the ambient temperature.

The TNPCB, in its consent order, allows the tolerance temperature limit of trade effluent of the KNPP at 45 degrees Celsius while the Comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment for the KNPP units 1 and 2 and additional units 3 to 6 has limited the tolerance temperature to 37 degree Celsius, he said.

Interestingly, the central government-appointed expert committee in its report last December said that the seasonal variation in surface water temperature of Kudankulam Marine Environment ranged from 23 degrees Celsius during monsoon and winter to 29 degrees Celsius during summer, with an annual average of 26.6 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the protest against the two 1,000-MW atomic power plant entered its second year Thursday with anti-nuclear activists stating that their fight was now two pronged — on the streets and within the portals of the Madras High Court.

“Our fight is on two flanks — civil/democratic and legal. We have been protesting against the project in a non-violent manner for the past one year. Now public interest petitions (PIL) have been filed in the Madras High Court. The court has reserved its decision on one, and two more cases have been filed,” said M. Pushparayan, a leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMAN), said.

He said fishermen in Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts did not go into the sea Thursday to express solidarity with PMANE and a huge crowd had gathered in Idinthakarai to attend an anti-nuclear power conference.

 

Centre seeks dismissal of petitions against KNPP


English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

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

PTI / Tuesday, June 12, 2012 20:22 IST

Asserting that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant belonged to the “highest safety category” of plants currently in operation in the world, the Centre on Tuesday sought dismissal of petitions in the Madras High Court against the Rs 14,000 crore Indo-Russian project.

In a joint counter-affidavit to a batch of petitions, the Department of Atomic Energy and Atomic Energy Commission said no technological endeavour was free from certain amount of risk, but assured that the authorities were fully prepared to meet and face any eventuality at the KNPP in Tamil Nadu.

The affidavit said since the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), empowered to enforce safety provisions under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, in all the DAE units, had been doing this in a very transparent and effective manner there was no need for fresh review of KNPP.

A high-level committee of the AERB for review and safety of nuclear power plants in the country in the light of Fukoshima accident in Japan had submitted its report and implementation of the recommendations were being pursued with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

NPCIL suggestions would be taken into account while giving clearance for subsequent commissioning of stages, as applicable, the affidavit said.

It said the 1000 MW each KNPP reactors 1 & 2 “are categorised as Generation III Plus plants meaning thereby have the latest safety features.”

The Chernobyl and Fukoshima mishaps were no doubt among the worst calamities but, KNPP had been designed in such a manner that similar disasters could not happen, it said adding it was also well protected from a possible tsunami or other disasters.

Besides, there was a full fledged ‘Crisis Management Group’, responsible to lay down guidelines, policy and procedures to be followed to meet any eventuality, it said.

Stating that already over Rs 14,000 crore had been spent on the project as on October 31 last, it said any temporary stoppage of work would result in a colossal wastage of national funds and resources.

The petitioners cannot assume and presume and indulge in wild imaginations as if everything was going to be disastrous,the counter said.

The fact that the petitioners made no representation of any kind in the last 22 years during the construction of the KNPP ‘is evident to prove the writ petition is purely a publicity oriented litigation’, the counter said and sought its dismissal with exemplary costs.

The plant had faced stiff opposition from locals on safety grounds. After remaining stalled, work on its commissioning resumed in March last after the state government gave its nod.

Anti-Kudankulam struggle enters 200th day


Newzfirst, Mar 3, 2012

CHENNAI – The people’s struggle against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu entered its 200th day Friday with villagers raising Rs.100,000 for the chief minister’s relief fund for the victims of Cyclone Thane that struck Dec 30 last year, an activist said.

The struggle against the two 1,000 MW reactors being built by India‘s nuclear power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here, began Aug 16 at Idinthakarai village.

The struggle is spearheaded by People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE).

“Today (Friday) is the 200th day of our struggle. The fast by people from nearby villagers is going on. We have raised Rs.100,000 from villagers as their contribution towards the Thane cyclone relief fund. The demand draft will be handed over to the district collector Saturday,” M. Pushparayan, convenor of the Coastal People’s Federation and a PMANE leader, told IANS

Read more here

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