Anti-nuclear SOS from Idinthakarai
The indefinite hunger strike has been going on since May 1 against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP). By May 5, 25 men had been on the fast since May 1 and 302 women and 10 more men joined the strike on May 4. More and more women are eager to join the indefinite hunger strike but the organisers are not able to accommodate them.
Statements released by the Struggle Committee, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), tell that many of the men have become very tired and suffer from fatigue and nausea. Scores of women are suffering from severe headache and others are dehydrated because of the scorching summer heat. They need immediate medical aid.
“The Tahsildar (county administrator) of Radhapuram contacted us yesterday (5 May) and said he was sending a medical team to check the health of the hunger strikers. Nobody has come so far and we have contacted the officer again this morning.
“Our people have been struggling so patiently, peacefully and nonviolently for the past nine months. Our people have not hurt or harmed or killed anybody or damaged any public or private properties. No untoward incident has ever taken place. But neither the central government nor the state government has ever tried to meet our people or listen to their opinions, thoughts, feelings and standpoints about the Koodankulam nuclear power project in a democratic manner.
“Even now, instead of talking to our people, the authorities are warning us not to turn our movement into a violent one. We are not sure if they are hatching a conspiracy against us. The whole world knows [should] that our people have been struggling nonviolently for the past nine months.
“When Maoists kidnap MLAs and District Collectors and engage in random acts of violence such as attacking police stations and killing people, the governments nominate high-level mediators, talk to the Maoists in their own hideouts and grant all their wishes and demands then and there. But when our people struggle peacefully and nonviolently, the governments, authorities, politicians, scientists and even some pro-government media houses turn a deaf ear to us.
“Our helpless and desperate people appeal to the Indian civil society and the international community to come to our rescue as our men and women are becoming weak and tired. We remain open to dialogue with the government officials but we demand a written agreement with a definite action plan and clear timeline.
May 7, 2012
At 3 PM on May 6, 2012, the Struggle Committee, the community elders, women and youth met at the Committee Room near the St. Lourdes Church at Idinthakarai. After long deliberations and discussions, we decided to return all of our Voter ID cards on May 8, 2012 protesting against the callous attitude of the Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu. When they do not respect the hunger strikers’ lives and our people’s interests, we do not want to vote for these selfish and anti-people mainstream politicians and political parties. We intend to return the cards to the Radhapuram Tahsildar (county administrator).
We request all our supporters in Tamil Nadu and the rest of India to return their Voter IDs to the local Tahsildar and express their opposition to the governments and show their solidarity with our campaign. Indians living abroad can return their Voter IDs to the Indian embassies in their respective countries.
Latest developments include a Press Meet invitation, for 3pm today, May 8:
1. The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy…  We plan to display the notebooks that contain the signatures of all the neighbouring village people who oppose the KKNPP.
2. People submit the Voter ID Cards to surrender to the Radhapuram Tahsildar.
3. We announce the “Respect India” campaign.”
‘Respect India’ is a call similar to ‘Quit India’ fervently made by the ordinary citizens of India here at Idinthakarai on May 8, 2012.
‘Quit India’ was a civil disobedience movement launched in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech delivered on August 8, 1942 at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Bombay. Gandhiji’s call for determined, but passive resistance appeared in his appeal to “Do or Die.”
India is facing a similar “Do or Die” situation today as our sovereignty, independence, freedom, natural resources, livelihood of the poor, their right to life, and the very future of the country are at imminent peril. The ruling class and their establishment care for the rich and powerful at the cost of the poor and powerless. There is no respect for ordinary Indian citizens’ life or dignity.
Just as the freedom fighters asked the colonial rulers to ‘Quit India,’ we, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy fighters, request the corrupt and communal ruling class in India to ‘Respect India,’ respect the Indian citizens’ lives, rights and entitlements.
The Indian society is in a desperate need for something like Albert Schweitzer’s personal philosophy of “Reverence for Life” (“Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben”). He rightly argued that the Western civilization (which Gandhiji called “a good idea”) was decaying because it had abandoned affirmation of and respect for life as its ethical foundation. When many Westerners are challenging their own establishments and value systems, Indian rulers are mindlessly imitating the same consumerist, hedonistic and globalization values and pushing our country to the brink of death and decay.
To give an example, most countries around the world such as Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan are phasing out and closing down their nuclear power plants. But the Indian rulers are planning to open mega nuclear power parks at the following coastal sites without giving all the information to the local people or getting their consent:
· Koodankulam, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu (Russian);
· Kalpakkam, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu (Indian);
· Kovvada, Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh (American);
· Haripur, Purba Medinipur District, West Bengal (Russian);
· Jaitapur, Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra (French); and
· Mithi Virdi, Bhavnagar District, Gujarat (American).
More nuclear power plants are planned in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and elsewhere. As a result of our ruling class’s nuclear madness, our land, water, air, sea, sea life, sea food and food security will all become spoiled and poisoned.
In India today, power and arrogance has become the pinnacle of political life; materialism and exploitation has become the foundation of economic life; and discrimination and hatred has become the hallmarks of social life. Success has come to mean to be rich and selfish. If you are small, soft and slow (and not super-sized, strong and swift), you are a loser. And you deserve your fate of poverty and misery, and marginalization and exploitation.
The political class’s heartless plundering of the national resources, the capitalist class’s obsessive exploitation of the natural resources, the upper castes’ ruthless exploitation of the poor and downtrodden and the overall immorality have driven most Indians to desperation. Hence, our farmers are committing suicide all over the country; our adivasis are fleeing their forest land; our youth are joining the ranks of extremist groups; our men are taking to drugs and alcohol; our women are resigned to their fate; and our children are unhealthy and hopeless.
There are two Indias today: the rich and powerful India whose life is deemed to be important and valuable; and the poor and powerless India whose life is condemned as unimportant and dispensable. The dirty ordinary Indians are forced to sacrifice their lives for the holy extraordinary Indians.
If we believe in Satya, Swaraj and Sarvodaya, we must challenge and change our national situation. Indian life must be made valuable and indispensable, no matter who they are and where they stand on the national socioeconomic-political pyramid. To ‘Respect India’ is to respect every Indian life. To respect Indian life means putting Indian life above and beyond everything else, such as elections, energy security, GDP, MNCs, FDI, Forbes list and so forth.
The Program of Action to ‘Respect India’ must include:
· Provide basic necessities to all Indians here and now;
· Provide safe drinking water to all Indians everywhere;
· Provide proper nutrition to all mothers and children all over India;
· Bring dignity to all Indians with toilets, public amenities, health care and insurance;
· Implement land reform all over India and protect the farmers and farming;
· Safeguard the interests of adivasis, fisher folks, Dalits and other minorities;
· Avoid ‘development’ projects that destroy people’s resources and livelihood;
· Implement pro-People, pro-Nature and pro-Future decentralized sustainable projects.
When the central and state governments respect Indian life and do the above things, our own people will begin to respect Indian life, and the rest of the world will do the same also. So, ‘Respect India.’
The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Please contact the following officers and demand justice for our people:
 Dr. R. Selvaraj, District Collector, Tirunelveli District, Tirunelveli. Phone: 91-462-2500828; Fax: 91-462-2500224; Mobile: 91-9444185000; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Mr. V. Varadharaju; Phone: 91-462-2568031; Mobile: 91-9840970530; Email: email@example.com
 Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009, India; Phones: 91-44-25672345 (W); 91-44-25670215 (H); Faxes: 91-44-28133510; 25676929; 25671441; 28130787; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
 Mr. Debendranath Sarangi, Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25671555; Fax: 91-44-25672304; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Dr. Sheela Priya, Additional Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25674234; Fax: 91-44-25675163. Email: email@example.com
We have put forward the following demands to the authorities:
 The ongoing work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) must be halted and the following steps must be taken immediately.
 As the Central Information Commission (CIC) has instructed the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), the Safety Analysis Report and the Site Evaluation Report must be released to the public immediately. And the full and final post-Fukushima safety audit report must also be released to the press and the public.
 A new and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report must be commissioned as the one that the DAE has released after 23 years of struggle is incomplete, erroneous and outdated. The Tamil and Malayalam translations of the new EIA must be shared with the local people and the Press in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
 The opinions and preferences of the project-affected people must be heard by a competent authority in an open, transparent and democratic manner to understand the fears and concerns of the people.
 An independent national committee must be constituted to study the issues of geology, hydrology, oceanography and seismology involved in the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.
 Disaster management training and evacuation exercises must be conducted in the 30-km radius of the Koodankulam plants and beyond in the wake of the recent earthquake all over Tamil Nadu and India.
 A Tamil Nadu State Assembly Resolution must be passed that the Pechipparai dam water from Kanyakumari District and the Tamirabharani river water from Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi Districts will not be taken for the KKNPP reactors.
 A copy of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on liability secretly signed between the governments of India and Russia must be made available to the project-affected public.
 Complete and truthful information must be given to the local people and the citizens of India about nuclear waste that would be produced at the Koodankulam plants and its management.
 All the false cases against the members of the struggle committee and the common people must be withdrawn immediately and unconditionally. Our friends who are still languishing in prison, Muhilan and Sathishkumar, must be released immediately.
 The local people’s right to protest peacefully and nonviolently against the KKNPP and other related issues must be respected and honored. And no more false cases and other intimidatory exercises should be used against the struggling people.
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy