Letter to Rahul Gandhi
KUDANKULAM ANTI-NUCLEAR SATYAGRAHA, INDIA, 11 Feb 2013
Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Vice President: Indian National Congress
Greetings! We are writing on behalf of several millions of people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala who have been waging a peaceful and nonviolent struggle for almost a quarter century against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP). We have intensified our struggle since August 2011 with indefinite hunger strikes, relay fasts, massive marches, siege protests and so on. And the Tamil Nadu police have registered more than 325 cases including ‘sedition,’ ‘waging war on the Indian State’ and on other such serious sections with 5,296 named accused and 2,21,483 unnamed accused at the Koodankulam police station alone. This is a history of sorts in our independent India.
The Koodankulam mega nuclear power park is being built with Russian loan and technology against the will and wishes of the local people. The Indian authorities have not conducted any public hearing to seek our permission or consent for this project. They have not shared the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, Site Evaluation Report (SER), Safety Analysis Report (SAR) and the Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) with our people. These reports are made available to the public on the internet in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. After a long and hard struggle of more than 22 years, we have just obtained a copy of the EIA report which is outdated and so full of inaccuracies and incomplete information.
As the Indian authorities unleash all kinds of atrocities on us such as dangerous cases, imprisonment, curfew and prohibitory orders, intimidation campaigns, home searches, physical attacks on our persons and properties, police atrocities and other such high-handed behavior, we are forced to seek justice from the voters of India. After all, nuclear energy is one of the most important national issues in which the “ordinary citizens” of India must have a say as they will be paying a heavy price in terms of radioactive contamination, polluted natural resources and health problems. If and when we set up all the planned nuclear power parks all over the country, we will render all the fishing communities and other farming communities very vulnerable.
In this context, we would like to point out how you reached out to the tribal people who had opposed Vedanta Resource’s Rs. 4,500-crore bauxite mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills. You said: “The issue is not about the fight of tribals with a big corporate, but about respect for law…True development takes place by respecting the interests of the poor and tribals.” You had assured them: “I am your sipahi (soldier) in Delhi. Whenever you need me, I will be there for you.” Responding so profusely to your thoughtful position, the tribal people exclaimed with joy: “Rahul Gandhi amaro bhai, Niyamgiri chharbo nai (Rahul Gandhi is our brother, we won’t leave Niyamgiri). This is what the “ordinary citizens” of India expect from a leader like you.
In reality, however, the Manmohan Singh government is trying to thrust a pro-nuclear energy policy down the throats of Indians despite stiff resistance all over the country. In a highly and densely populated country like India, nuclear energy with deadly wastes would pose serious dangers and threats to the common people. It is high time we acted like a leader and thought of creative and original solutions for our issues such as energy crisis rather than accept the outdated foreign reactors with a colonial mindset.
If the Congress Party does not respect people’s power, democracy and peaceful struggles, and tries to mow down democratic dissent and starts the KKNPP forcibly, that will be undermining our people’s trust in democracy, human rights and the very idea of Republic of India. It will also prompt the voters to shun the Congress Party at least in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is only fair to make the nuclear energy a national poll issue in the affected states in the next Parliamentary election and give the voters in the respective states in India an opportunity to decide their and their children’s fate.
In the light of the above, may we request you to take a stand that we announce a moratorium on nuclear energy plans and projects until the next general elections, make it a poll issue in the affected states and let the people decide our energy policy. Hoping that you would accept this fair and democratic offer and do the needful, wesend you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes.
S. P. Udayakumar
M. P. Jesuraj
Fr. F. Jayakumar
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai 627 104
Tamil Nadu, India
February 5, 2013
S.P. Udayakumar, Ph.D. – Tamil Nadu, India:
* SACCER-South Asian Community Center for Education and Research (promoting life-long, life-wide and life-deep education)
* TRANSCEND Network, South Asia Convener (TSA) (For Rethinking South Asia)
* People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
* National Alliance of Anti-nuclear Movements (NAAM) (For a Nuclear-Free India that has No Deals, No Mines, No Reactors, No Dumps, and No Bombs).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Feb 2013.
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