The successful 12 day fast by 127 people (till 22nd September 2011) near the site of the Koodankulam nuclear plant (Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu) marks a significant step for the anti-nuclear movement in India. For more than 2 decades now people of Koodankulam particularly around the village of Idinthakaria have been struggling an almost daily battle against the setting up of nuclear power plant in the area with significant consequences on the lives and livelihood of many fisher people community in the area.
Over 15,000 to 20,000 people had gathered at the protest site for over 2 weeks and have been peacefully protesting under the banner of People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) against the commissioning of the plant which was to take place in September of this year. Though not much attention was paid by the national media unlike the anti-corruption fast by Anna Hazare, the main political parties in Tamil Nadu (though most of them pro-nuclear at heart) feared losing their political clout in the region as protests started to gather momentum throughout the district.
A welcome dent @ the top!
The ruling party in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK led by Jayalalitha, which romped home on the wave of disgust against the erstwhile corrupt DMK (part of the Congress led Govt. at the center) regime, is still enjoying a fragile popularity. Gauging the increasing fears of the people in relation to the Nuclear project in the light of the recent Fakushima disaster, it agreed to a cabinet resolution as a face saving strategy to request the center to halt the project. Though per se the decision on halting the project rests with the Congress government at the center, this is seen as a partial victory by the people of Koodankulam, although the final victory for the people would mean the scrapping of the whole project itself.
It is highly unlikely that the ruling class will give up the project of Nuclear Power. The Congress, historically has been rooting for Nuclearization right from the days of Nehru. They will try to drag the issue much longer to wear out the protesters because the issue at stake here is not about electricity generation (although they try to project it that way) in a power deficit area, there are commercial, strategic and “national” interests at stake here and the ruling classes will never give up on what they consider as vital to their very existence and profits.
West dumps it, but?
While throughout the developed world it seems there is a growing trend away from nuclear energy, partly due to the strong opposition by the people there, India is going on the opposite direction with mad race to build more nuclear power plants (which has attracted a lot of opposition by the people in the region) which would hardly meet 3% of the nation’s power needs, at twice or thrice the cost. No, nuclear energy has nothing to do with power generation but everything to do with business and strategic interests with the big powers of the world.
Yes, India does face a power crisis but this has everything to do with wasteful power consumption by the urban centers to satisfy the needs of the upper classes. The future of power generation lies in renewable sources of energy from solar, wind to even non radioactive (aneutronic) nuclear fusion experiments that are still at their initial stages as the world’s profit seekers starve the these research projects for resources. But the heart of the problem is not merely a question of alternative sources of energy, it is do with a crisis facing all the countries of the globe under a system based on capitalism that is wrecking the entire planet from exploitation and oppression of people to environmental destruction.
We oppose Nuclear self-destruction
We the New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) are firmly opposed to all that is NUCLEAR (especially nuclear fission), whether nuclear weapons or nuclear power generation, as we believe that, neither is nuclear power the answer to the present unsustainable growth under capitalism nor is it a safe technology that can be relied upon as 100% foolproof. Opposition to the Nuclear madness will immediately place the movement Willy nilly against the very profit system of capitalism as a whole, hence the struggle to defeat the Nuclear crimes of the ruling class can not be separated from the overall struggle against capitalism itself.
There has been increasing awareness and the will to struggle against the Nuclear power projects in India from diverse sections of the society, it is even forcing some of the petty bourgeois political outfits to take a progressive stand against the nuclear issues. A mass movement connecting all anti nuclear struggles from Jaitapur, Kaiga, Haripur to Koodamkulam etc., involving Trade Unions, Youth, women, Daliths and adivasis along with the other oppressed and down trodden should be built around a clear programme of Sustainable and Democratic Development, which will make demands against the wasteful industrial practices. Only a system based on the genuine democratic socialist principles of democratic control and management of society can proceed to dismantle the present nuclear and hawkish propaganda of the capitalists who make us believe that TINA to Nuclear self-destruction.
Build a new mass political party of the Working People!
It is an utter shame on the part of the so called “Communist Parties” which have a very bankrupt understanding on the issue of Nuclear Energy and argue scandalously for the Nuclear Projects as long as they come from the technology and land of erstwhile Stalinist countries, they role this out as their “anti-imperialism”. To expect these parties to give leadership to the struggles of the down trodden masses of India is like signing death warrants. The crying need of each and every struggle of the people of India on various issues ranging from corruption, mining, displacement, privatization, anti-capitalist globalalization, Nationality aspirations etc., points to the lack of a combative democratic political alternative. Only the formation of a new mass political party of the working people which can draw the strength from all the struggling sections and pro-people movements can fill that conspicuous vacuum.
No More Chernobyl, No More Three Mile Island, No more Fukushima! It is Better to Be Active now than to Being Radioactive tomorrow!
Jagadish G Chandra