FROM THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHERN TAMIL NADU AND KERALA
We, the people of southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala would like to bring your kind attention to the great dangers the Koodankulam nuclear power plant will pose to our health, safety, our childrenís well-being, to our natural resources, and to our overall environment.
We, the people of 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 Even though these studies are now outdated and many changes have been brought about in the project, we have the right to know what the government and the Indian nuclear establishment really argue. Even more worrying is the fact that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has been sidestepped by the DAE in getting proper permission for setting up the Koodankulam project. And the mandatory Public Hearing has not been conducted to this day.
We have been demanding further 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 that will jeopardize the soil, water and air of southern India and the health and well-being of the people there who already have a high incidence of cancer and other natural radiation-related illnesses. The discharge of hot water with radioactive pollutants into the sea will increase the temperature of the seawater and damage the health of the fish and the people who eat that fish. Our fishermen will lose their livelihood and sink further into poverty and misery. And the already malnourished farming families will stand to suffer even more.
Moreover, the southern tip is also seismically vulnerable and has had quite a few small tremors. There have also been minor volcanic eruptions in Tirunelveli district. Cyclones, huge monsoon thunderstorms, unrelenting sea erosion, and increasing global warming can also prove to be potential dangers.
Inadvertent human-errors and deliberate human-made disasters pose additional threats. Terrorism has become an unfortunate part of our daily reality with the proliferation of extremist outfits and violent communal groups around the country. The so-called ëwar on terrorismí alienates people even more and drives them to desperate acts.
In case of an accident or an attack on the Koodankulam nuclear reactors and the inevitable nuclear radiation, people who live directly south of Koodankulam will be literally trapped inside a big nuclear contamination cage. Caught between the rough and deep sea and the source of deadly contamination, the people of Kanyakumari would be convoluting inside their death cell.
Fleeing westward into Kerala would not help us much because there is no natural barrier that could guarantee against the spread of nuclear contamination. In fact, the Western Ghats mountain range recedes considerably towards its southern end with few lofty summits or groups of high hills. Geographers and meteorologists agree that the West Coast of the peninsula has the dampest and most uniform climate throughout the year. It is open to the westerly winds from the ocean, and is shielded from the desiccating winds of the Deccan plateau by the Western Ghats.
The recent Supreme Court judgment that information relating to nuclear installations in India could not be made public in the national interest is very disconcerting to us. 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 reinforces the anti-people and anti-democratic tendencies of the DAE.
In its typical authoritarian manner, the DAE keeps on increasing the number of reactors at Koodankulam from two to six. They are also planning a reprocessing plant there. Keeping the civil and political societies in the dark, the DAE is acting with no transparency and accountability whatsoever. They even threaten their opponents with the Atomic Energy Act of 1962. All this is done under the cover of the Official Secrecy Act.
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.
We, the people of the southern tip of India, demand that the DAE and the Government of India respect the Right to Life and Livelihood of our farmers, fisherfolks and others of southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala and cancel the Koodankulam project forthwith.
We earnestly hope that you would voice your concern about our safety and security, press the government to focus on renewable sources of energy such as solar power and wind power, and regain the status of our country as a world leader in sustainable development and appropriate technology. We thank you for your understanding and support.
May 28, 2004
Dr. S. P. Udayakumar
Peopleís Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
42/27 Esankai ManiVeethy
Parakkai Road Junction
Nagercoil 629 002, Tamil Nadu
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