An anti-people projectPublished by MAC on 2004-04-15
An anti-people project
Letter to Frontline (replying to article on 23rd April 2004)
I write with reference to your special feature on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in the April 23, 2004 issue of Frontline. I, for one, am quite astonished that the approximately 25-page-long report does not have even one line about the opposition to the plant and the serious questions that the local people have about this project.
The local people and anti-nuclear activists in Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts of Tamil Nadu have been demanding the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Government of India to respect our Right to Information and to release the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Site Evaluation Study, and the Safety Analysis Report that are claimed to have been done for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project back in 1988. Even though these studies are now outdated and many changes have been brought about in the project, the public has a right to know what the government and the Indian nukedom really argue. Moreover, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has been sidestepped by the DAE in getting proper permission for setting up the Koodankulam project. The mandatory Public Hearing has never been conducted to this day.
Some of us in southern Tamil Nadu have been trying to assert our right to know the impacts of this anti-people project on us and our childrenís health, safety and environment. Although the original plan is to have two 1000 MW reactors, the DAE authorities keep adding the number of reactors in Koodankulam as if they were running a state within the Indian state. Government officials and elected public representatives are being kept in the dark by the DAE about their actual plans in Koodankulam. Keeping the civil and political societies in the dark, the DAE is acting with no transparency and accountability whatsoever.
The recent Supreme Court judgment that information relating to nuclear installations in India could not be made public in the national interest has been quite a blow to our struggle. This only shows that the authorities are in reality not willing to distinguish between the so-called peaceful use of nuclear energy and military purposes. This outrageous Supreme Court decision has only reinforced the anti-people and anti-democratic tendencies of the DAE.
Surprisingly and quite sadly, this gross democratic deficit of the Koodankulam nuclear power project does not seem worth reporting for Frontline. It is also quite shocking that Frontline turns a blind eye to the facts that the southern tip of the peninsula is already reeling under high incidence of cancer, that Koodankulam area is seismically vulnerable and a hazard in times of the so-called war against terrorism, and that the local environment is so systematically damaged by sea sand mining (for bauxite, monosite, thorium etc.) and the consequent sea erosion.
The Koodankulam nuclear power plant coupled with the sand mining operations of the Indian Rare Earths Limited and other private parties on our shores is threatening our fisherfolk's lives and livelihood. Our agricultural land, our water resources, our air, and our food chain are all going to be contaminated by the additional burden of radiation that will emerge from the Koodankulam nuclear power plants. It is important that "journalists" like T. S. Subramanian see all sides of an issue and not simply forward the offcial press releases to his editor from the luxurious lap of their rich and powerful hosts.
We, the local people and anti-nuclear activists in Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts of Tamil Nadu, demand that the DAE and the Government of India respect the Right to Life and Livelihood of the farmers, fisherfolk and others of southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala and cancel the Koodankulam project forthwith.
Dr. S.P. Udayakumar
Contact: SOUTH ASIANS AGAINST NUKES (SAAN): An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned about Nuclearisation in South Asia.
SAAN Web site URL: www.s-asians-against-nukes.org