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Tuesday 20 December 2011

Statement on Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

Statement from Idinthakarai

S.P. Udayakumar, Ph.D.
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
National Alliance of Anti-nuclear Movements (NAAM)

December 19, 2011

Dear Delegates and colleagues:

We, the People's Movement Agianst Nuclear Energy (PMANE) activists,
are unable to travel to Calicut today and to be with you in your
important conference. Please bear with us and allow us to share our
thoughts with you through this message.

We have been opposing the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP)
ever since it was conceived in the mid-1980s. The people of
Koodankulam village themselves were misled by false promises such as
10,000 jobs, water from Pechiparai dam in Kanyakumari district, and
fantastic development of the region. We tried in vain to tell them
that they were being deceived. Without any local support, we could not
sustain the anti-Koodankulam movement for too long.

Now the people of Koodankulam know and understand that this is not
just a fisherfolk’s problem, they may be displaced, and they have to
deal with radioactive poison. Their joining the movement in 2007 has
invigorated the campaign now. And (almost) all of us here in the
southernmost tip of India oppose the Koodankulam NPP for a few
specific reasons:

[1] The KKNPP reactors are being set up without sharing the
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study and
Safety Analysis Report with the people, or the people’s
representatives or the press. No public hearing has been conducted for
the first two reactors either. There is absolutely no democratic
decision-making in or public approval for this project.

[2] The Tamil Nadu Government G.O. 828 (29.4.1991 – Public Works
Department) establishes clearly that “area between 2 to 5 km radius
around the plant site, [would be] called the sterilization zone.” This
means that people in this area could be displaced. But the KKNPP
authorities promise orally and on a purely adhoc basis that nobody
from the neighboring villages would be displaced. This kind of
adhocism and doublespeak causes suspicion and fears of displacement.

[3] More than 1 million people live within the 30 km radius of the
KKNPP which far exceeds the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board)
stipulations. It is quite impossible to evacuate this many people
quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster at Koodankulam.

[4] The coolant water and low-grade waste from the KKNPP are going to
be dumped in to the sea which will have a severe impact on fish
production and catch. This will undermine the fishing industry, push
the fisherfolks into deeper poverty and misery and affect the food
security of the entire southern Tamil Nadu and southern Kerala.

[5] Even when the KKNPP projects function normally without any
incidents and accidents, they would be emitting Iodine 131, 132, 133,
Cesium 134, 136, 137 isotopes, strontium, tritium, tellurium and other
such radioactive particles into our air, land, crops, cattle, sea,
seafood and ground water. Already the southern coastal belt is sinking
with very high incidence of cancer, mental retardation, down syndrome,
defective births due to private and government sea-sand mining for
rare minerals including thorium. The KKNPP will add many more woes to
our already suffering people.

[6] The quality of construction and the pipe work and the overall
integrity of the KKNPP structures have been called into question by
the very workers and contractors who work there in Koodankulam. There
have been international concerns about the design, structure and
workings of the untested Russian-made VVER-1000 reactors.

[7] The then Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and
Forest Mr. Jairam Ramesh announced a few months ago that the central
government had decided not to give permission to KKNPP 3-6 as they
were violating the Coastal Regulation Zone stipulations. It is
pertinent to ask if KKNPP 1 and 2 are not violating the CRZ terms.

[8] Many political leaders and bureaucrats try to reassure us that
there would be no natural disasters in the Koodankulam area. How can
they know? How can anyone ever know? The 2004 December tsunami did
flood the KKNPP installations. There was a mild tremor in the
surrounding villages of Koodankulam on March 19, 2006. On August 12,
2011, there were tremors in 7 districts of Tamil Nadu.

[9] Indian Prime Minster himself has spoken about terrorist threats to
India’s nuclear power plants. Most recently, on August 17, 2001,
Minister of State for Home, Mr. Mullappally Ramachandran said: “the
atomic establishments continue to remain prime targets of the
terrorist groups and outfits.”

[10] The important issue of liability for the Russian plants has not
been settled yet. Defying the Indian nuclear liability law, Russia
insists that the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), secretly signed
in 2008 by the Indian and Russian governments, precedes the liability
law and that Article 13 of the IGA clearly establishes that NPCIL is
solely responsible for all claims of damages.

[11] In 1988 the authorities said that the cost estimate of the
Koodakulam 1 and 2 projects was Rs. 6,000 crores. In November 1998,
they said the project cost would be Rs. 15,500. In 2001, the
ministerial group for economic affairs announced that the project cost
would be Rs. 13,171 crores and the Indian government would invest Rs.
6,775 crores with the remainder amount coming in as Russian loan with
4 percent interest. The fuel cost was estimated to be Rs. 2,129 crores
which would be entirely Russian loan. No one knows the 2011 figures of
any of these expenses. No one cares to tell the Indian public either.

[12] The March 11, 2011 disaster in Fukushima has made it all too
clear to the whole world that nuclear power plants are prone to
natural disasters and no one can really predict their occurrence. When
we cannot effectively deal with a nuclear disaster, it is only prudent
to prevent it from occurring. Even the most industrialized and highly
advanced country such as Germany has decided to phase out their
nuclear power plants by the year 2022. Switzerland has decided to shun
nuclear power technology. In a recent referendum, some 90 percent of
Italians have voted against nuclear power in their country. Many
Japanese prefectures and their governors are closing nuclear power
plants in their regions. Both the United States and Russia have not
built a new reactor in their countries for 2-3 decades ever since
major accidents occurred at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

In our own country, Mamta Banerjee government in West Bengal has
stopped the Russian nuclear power park project at Haripur in Purba
Medhinipur district and taken a position that they do want any nuclear
power project in their state. Similarly, the people of Kerala have
decided not to host any nuclear power project in their state.

[13] And finally, the Indian government’s mindless insistence on
nuclear power, utmost secrecy in all of its nuclear agreements and
activities, and its sheer unwillingness to listen to the people’s
concerns and fears make us very doubtful about the real benefactors of
all this nuclear hoopla. Is it all for us, the people of India? Or for
the corporate profits of the Russian, American and French companies?
Or for the Indian military? Are the lives and futures of the Indian
citizens inferior to all these?

The Koodankulam reactors will hurt, harm and kill the people of Tamil
Nadu and Kerala. That is why people in both our states have been
opposing the Koodankulam project. As the Tamil-Malayalee solidarity
was taking shape so fast and so well on the Koodankulam issue, vested
interests have tried to abort it. If Koodankulam was stopped, all the
planned nuclear power projects all over India would be stopped. And
all the nuclear agreements with the United States, Russia, France,
Australia and so on will have to be rescinded. All this would mean a
huge loss of kickbacks and commissions to the vested interests in
India as well as in all of the above countries. So they most
definitely want to stop the KKNPP agitation. When the people of Kerala
join hands with the Tamil Nadu agitators and share their own
hard-learned lessons and wisdom with them, the struggle obviously
becomes much stronger.

Water disputes take place all over the world. We can identify many of
them in our own country. There are several water disputes between
districts in a state, and between communities in a district. These
water disputes will only become even more numerous and stronger as we
are spoiling all our water bodies so indiscriminately and callously.
These conflicts have to be negotiated patiently and peacefully with
maturity. Playing up people's fears, whipping up people's emotions and
making them hate their neighbor is a wrong and unacceptable approach.
The vested interests are least bothered about the unity and integrity
of the country.

The Mullaperiyar dam issue is an intricate conflict and has defied any
tangible solution so far. That does not mean more thoughtful and
humane citizens from Tamil Nadu and Kerala cannot solve it in the
future. Maybe, our youth and children from Tamil Nadu and Kerala can
think of better and more creative ways of solving the issue once and
for all. And that opportunity must be given to them. They must be
allowed to live a long and healthy life by scrapping the deadly
Koodankulam nuclear power plant.

My point is let us get our priority straight. Let us not fall for the
cunning political manipulations of the anti-India vested interests and
get divided! Let us, the people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, struggle
together to scrap the KKNPP project and we will be able to solve the
Mullaperiyar dam issue much more easily and effortlessly.

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