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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Open Letter to the Fellow Citizens of India [on the Struggle against Koodankulam NPPP

An Open Letter to the Fellow Citizens of India [on the Struggle against Koodankulam NPPP


Peoples'
Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)                               February
28, 2012
Idinthakarai
627 104
Tirunelveli
District
Tamil
Nadu, India
koodankulam@yahoo.com

An Open Letter to the Fellow Citizens of
India


Dear
Sisters and Brothers of India:

Greetings! Please accept our sincere
thanks for your keen interest in our struggle and the kind support for our
cause. As you know, we, the
fisherfolks, farmers, shopkeepers, Dalit workers, beedi-rolling women and
others near the southernmost tip of India, have
been fighting against the Koodankulam Nuclear power Project (KKNPP) since the
late 1980s.

This Russian project was shelved
right after the Soviet Union's collapse and taken up again in 1997. The Indian
government and Russians have constructed two huge reactors of 1000 MW each
without any consent of or consultation with the local people. We have just
obtained the outdated Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report after 23
years of long and hard struggle. The Indian nuclear authorities have not shared
any basic information about the project with the public. They do not give
complete and truthful answers for our questions on the 'daily routine
emissions' from these reactors, the amount and management of nuclear
waste, fresh
water needs, impact of the coolant water on our sea and seafood,
decommissioning costs and effects, Russian liability and so forth. We are
deeply disturbed by all this.

Our people watched the Fukushima
accident of March 11, 2011 on TV at their homes and understood the magnitude
and repercussions of a nuclear accident. Right after that on July 1, 2011, the
KKNPP announced the 'hot run' of the first reactor that made so much noise and
smoke. Furthermore, the authorities asked the people, in a mock drill notice,
to cover their nose and mouth and run for their life in case of an emergency.
As a result of all these, our people in Koodankulam and Idinthakarai villages
made up their minds and took to the streets on their own on August 11, 2011.
Then we all together decided to host a day-long hunger strike on August 16 at
Idinthakarai and a three-day fast on August 17-19 at Koodankulam. On
the 17th itself authorities invited us for talks and asked us to
postpone our
struggle to the first week of September because of the upcoming Hindu and
Muslim festivals. In a few days' time, the chief of the Department of Atomic
Energy (DAE) announced that the first reactor would go critical in September
2011.

So we embarked upon an indefinite
hunger strike on September 11, 2011 and our women blocked a state road on
September 13 for a few hours when the state and central governments continued
to ignore us. The state Chief Minister invited us for talks on September 21 and
passed a cabinet resolution the next day asking the central government to halt
all the work until the fears and concerns of the local people were allayed. We
ended our hunger strike on the 22nd but went on another round of
indefinite hunger strike from October 9 to 16 when the talks with the Indian
Prime Minister failed. We laid siege in front of the KKNPP on October 13-16,
2011 when the KKNPP authorities did not halt work at the site as per the Tamil
Nadu state cabinet resolution. We ended both the indefinite hunger strike and
the siege on October 16 in order for our people to participate in the local
body elections on the 17th. From October 18, 2011, we have been on a
relay hunger strike continuously (134th day today). We have been carrying out
massive rallies, village campaigns, public meetings, seminars, conferences, and
other demonstrations such as shaving our heads, cooking on the street, burning
the models of the nuclear plants etc. This struggle has been going on for the
past 197 days and the morale of the people is still very very high.

There is no foreign country or
agency or money involved in this classic people's struggle to defend our right
to life and livelihood. Our fishermen, farmers, workers and women make small
voluntary donations in cash and kind to sustain our simple Gandhian struggle.
Our needs are very few and expenses much less. We only provide safe drinking
water to the hunger strikers and visitors. People from all over Tamil Nadu (and
sometimes from other parts of India) come on their own arranging their own
transportation. For our own occasional travel, we hire local taxis.

Instead of understanding the
people's genuine feelings and fulfilling our demands, the government has
foisted serious cases of 'sedition' and 'waging war on the Indian state' on the
leaders of our movement. There are as many as 180-200 cases on us. There have
been police harassment, intelligence officers' stalking, concocted news reports
in the pro-government media, abuse of our family members, hate mail, death
threats and even physical attack.

Although India is a democracy, our
Delhi government has been keen on safeguarding the interests of the MNCs and
pleasing some powerful countries such as the United States, Russia, France etc.
The welfare of the 'ordinary citizens' of India does not figure on their list
of priorities. The central government and the ruling Congress party stand by
the secretive nuclear agreements they have made with all different countries
and consider us as stumbling blocks on their road to development. The main
opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (Hindu nationalist party) is
interested in the nuclear weapons program and making India a superpower and
hence loves everything nuclear. It is ironic that these two corrupt and
communal forces join hands with each other against their own people. They bend
backwards to please their American and other bosses but question our integrity
and nationalist credentials.

Our leaders and the group of 15
women were physically attacked on January 31, 2012 at Tirunelveli by the
Congress thugs and Hindutva Fascists when we had gone for talks with the
central government expert team. Now the government cuts electricity supply so
often and so indiscriminately in order to drive home the message that nuclear
power plant is needed for additional power. They try to create resentment and
opposition among the public against our anti-nuclear struggle.

To put it all in a nutshell, this is
a classic David-Goliath fight between the 'ordinary citizens' of India and the
powerful Indian government supported by the rich Indian capitalists, MNCs,
imperial powers and the global nuclear mafia. They promise FDI, nuclear power,
development, atom bombs, security and superpower status. We demand risk-free
electricity, disease-free life, unpolluted natural resources, sustainable
development and harmless future. They say the Russian nuclear power plants are
safe and can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis. But we worry about their
side-effects and after-effects. They speak for their scientist friends and
business partners and have their eyes on commissions and kickbacks. But we
fight for our children and grandchildren, our progeny, our animals and birds,
our land, water, sea, air and the skies.

Please keep us on your
prayers/meditations/thoughts/conversations and keep an eye on the developments
here in the southernmost tip of India. You can write to the Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister
Ms. J. Jayalalitha requesting her to stop this dangerous project. You could
also write to our Prime Minister not to drag India in the opposite direction
when the whole world is going the 'beyond thermal and nuclear' route. Thanking
you once again, we send you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes.

Cordially,

 S. P. Udayakumar, M. Pushparayan, Fr. M.P. Jesuraj, S.
Sivasubramanian, Fr. F. Jayakumar and others.

Chief Minister's Address: Fort St.
George, Chennai 600 009, India. Fax No. (+91-44)-28133510; 25676929; 25671441;
28130787

Prime Minister's Address: South
Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi 110 001, India.

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