India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences and the Anti Nuclear Protests at Koodankulam
KUDANKULAM ANTI-NUCLEAR SATYAGRAHA, INDIA, 25 Jun 2012
NIMHANS and Anti Nuclear Protests at Koodankulam
Dear Dr. P. Satishchandra,
Director/Vice Chancellor, NIMHANS
The people’s opposition to the nuclear power plants at Koodankulam is based on scientific evidence of effect of nuclear radiations on not only human health but all the flora and fauna around. In addition to this they are also concerned about the issues of displacement and livelihood. This opposition is not just at Koodankulam but worldwide. There are ample of scientific studies to prove the detrimental effect of nuclear radiations including the one carried out by Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) on the “Effect on Health of People Living Around Jadugoda Uranium Mines” which shows statistically significant effect on the health of the people. Fears of the people around the Koodankulam plant are therefore justified and need to be addressed to by the government rather than doing witch hunting. People who think of safe environment, well being of masses, social justice, coexistence & not competing with nature, reducing wealth gap are sanest people.
No one can ever say with 100% authenticity that there can never be an accident in the nuclear power plant or any other industry so to say anywhere in the world. Who could imagine the disaster at Fukushima in Japan which is known for one of the best technological applications and disaster management? On the contrary the track record of disaster management in India is extremely dismal. We are till date unable to cope up with the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Even today more than one year after the accident the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Number 4 reactor presents a security problem for the entire world according to Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland. Fukushima Daiichi plants are “not under control at all… and the situation with nuclear reactors in Japan is like vehicles being driven without a license,” Mr.Murata told a news conference at the foreign correspondents’ club of Japan on 5 June 2012.
A team of doctors from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) including IDPD is likely to visit Fukushima in August 2012 to take stock of the ground reality. However lot of studies has been done on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Based on information from the Belarus National Academy of Sciences, Greenpeace places the figure at 93,000 deaths as a fall out of this accident.
The Belarus National Academy of Sciences estimates 270,000 people in the region around the accident site will develop cancer as a result of Chernobyl radiation. Another report by the Center for Independent Environmental Assessment of the Russian Academy of Sciences found a dramatic increase in mortality since 1990—60,000 deaths in Russia and an estimated 140,000 deaths in Ukraine and Belarus—probably due to Chernobyl radiation.
The biggest challenge facing communities still coping with the fallout of Chernobyl is the psychological damage to 5 million people in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. “The psychological impact is now considered to be Chernobyl’s biggest health consequence,” according to Louisa Vinton, of the UNDP. “People have been led to think of themselves as victims over the years, and are therefore more apt to take a passive approach toward their future rather than developing a system of self-sufficiency.”
The approach of the Indian government to label the anti nuclear protesters as uninformed and anti national is incorrect. This whole exercise of the government is unethical and smells of some business deals. It is perturbing to learn that the government has approached the NIMHANS to appoint a committee of Psychiatrists to counsel the protesters as if they are mentally deranged people. We were dismayed to read in the news papers that the NIMHANS has agreed to comply with the government’s directive. Their opposition to the nuclear plant is not based on any delusion.
As medical professionals we have right to disagree with the government and not necessarily comply with all their orders as we are duty bound ethically and morally to the society. Therefore we appeal to you not to send the doctors to the area on this ground.
Our country has immense resources of renewable energy which should be tapped. It is high time therefore, the Indian government pays more attention to the renewable energy resources which are inexhaustible and non hazardous in our country. The Japanese have already put a stop to the nuclear power plants and so are many other countries.
Dr L S Chawla, President
Dr Arun Mitra, General Secretary
Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD)
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Jun 2012.
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