The last few months have been a testing time for many activists and protesters alike fighting the might of the Indian state in its ever increasing attacks on the lives and livelihoods of the Indian working people. In particular for the people in and around Kudankulam nuclear power plant, the whole issue is a do or die battle which has repercussions for not just the people around the nuclear plant, but far beyond the frontiers of India.
With the Indian government clearly appearing to be in no mood to engage the protesters in any meaningful dialogue and in the last period, unleashing a series of hugely unpopular neo-liberal reform programme, the Indian state appears to be all set to crush this genuinely democratic people’s movement. Last month saw brutal attacks by the police when the protesters tried to march towards the plant leaving one person dead and several injured.
To top it all is the case of sedition that has been slapped on more than 55,000 people including adolescents and children. Not to be intimidated, the people of Idinthakarai have met these challenges with different ingenious forms of protest from fasting to Jal Sathyagraha without resorting to violence, unlike the governments who have used every violent intimidating tactic in the book to drown the protests. Both the DMK and AIADMK have formed an unholy alliance to crush the anti-Kudankulam protest by any means necessary. The same applies for CPI(M) leadership that has put forward the most outlandish argument that it will oppose nuclear reactors from Western Countries, but it is perfectly okay for them if reactors came from Russia!
Profits Safe! People Not..!!
To this struggle, has been added the debate over the science of NUCLEAR FISSION technology, with the Indian political establishment parading all its scientists and so called experts to prove to the world that nuclear energy is 100% safe. Apart from the questionable claims about the safety of nuclear technology which is full of holes, they have conveniently brushed aside the issue over the use of radioactive materials like uranium, especially on the issues pertaining to both mining of these radioactive materials to safe disposal of nuclear waste. Also hidden is the cost and who benefits from these nuclear power projects.
If the government is so sure about the safety of nuclear energy, why is the nuclear industrial complex such a closely guarded secret and not open to any public scrutiny? Also, why are multinational suppliers not completely liable and not being made to pay the entire compensation amount in case of a nuclear accident?
Since the entire capacity of the Kudankulam plant is only about 2000 MW from its first two units, why is the public exchequer being made to bear a huge cost expense of upto Rs.14,000 crores so far? When the same amount of money can be used to generate energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind at a much much lower cost and at higher generation capacity.
When developed countries like Japan and Germany have been forced by mass pressure to switch towards cleaner energy options and most of the developed nations having abandoned construction of nuclear projects altogether, why are people of India being made to bear the burden of this highly risky option?
Even if, for argument sake, we re-look at the pros and cons of nuclear fission technology, there is absolutely no foolproof guarantee of its safety, especially going by the claim made about nuclear technology being 100% safe. Apart from the three major disasters such as Three Miles Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, there have been numerous “not-so-big” nuclear accidents that are hidden from the public limelight especially in India. The claim about nuclear energy being a clean energy is an absolute lie and a bogus argument. Apart from the construction which itself is highly polluting, the damage to the environment in case of an accident is of a qualitatively different magnitude when compared to damage to the environment currently done through coal or fuel based power generation. What is forgotten often in the fierce debate is the silent killer of RADIATION from the existing and operating plants. Kaiga, Kalpakam and Tarapur are unfortunate examples where people around those plants have paid the price with cancer and long-term illnesses.
123 an agreement of deceit
Much of the renewed interest in promoting nuclear projects across India has direct correlation to the 123 agreement signed between the US and India during the tenure of UPA I government. The 123 agreement promoted by companies like Wal-Mart, General Electric (GE), Boeing, Carefour and other multinationals was all about promoting a technology that was no longer acceptable to the people of developed nations and provide a boost to an industry that was on the verge of bankruptcy.
But the flip side of this agreement were the several strings attached which included complete opening up of the Indian economy to the multinational corporations. According to American based the Center for Responsive Politics, twenty multi-national companies and industry organizations–from the French-based AREVA Group to the U.S. powerhouse Xcel Energy–have paid lobbyists to promote Nuclear energy sector.
It is very clear now that the Indian political establishment alternating mainly between the big business party Congress and the communal BJP is a slave of the multi-national corporations and the Industrial houses of India. They force us to believe that the option to go Nuclear is irreversible and even the liability at the time of the disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima would fall on the people themselves. The experience of Bhopal taught the people of India as to whose interests are cared for by the political parties serving capitalism.
While the farce of India’s democracy forces the people to believe that their interests are safe in the assemblies and parliament where every single party is representing the interests of capitalism, it is the ground struggles such as one in Idinthakarai- Kudankulam that keeps the hopes for genuine democracy alive. Be it Nuclear plants, mega projects, Economic Zones or investments that affect the life and livelihoods of people needs assent of the people themselves. The very basis of a functioning democracy is the right to dissent and question the policies of the establishment, and that is what the people of Kudankulam are doing, and we will unequivocally support their cause.
Kudankulam can be Stopped!
It is not that the Nuclear Plants once built can not be stopped, the history of struggle and especially the anti-nuclear struggle is rich with examples of victory, Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant in Austria was closed after a popular referendum in 1978, and thorough a very successful referendum the entire Nuclear power programme of Italy was shelved as late as 1990’s. Our own Peringome in Kerala is a classic example of what a united struggle can do.
The other argument, that is being put forward by the supporters of nuclear energy, is the “develop or die” argument. But this completely misses the point as to what kind of development is being promoted in India today. The very of notion of development under capitalist globalization means destruction through loss of livelihood to millions of people through land displacement and highly exploitative workplaces, damage to the environment and plunder of natural resources. This very paradigm of development needs to be first of all questioned and what really constitutes development has to be re-defined and re-examined.
There is no inclination political will on the part of mainstream opposition political parties including the so-called left parties [CPI(M) & CPI] to stop this project or listen to the demands of tens of thousands of people opposed to this project. The situation begs for a new political alternative to be created. An alternative which not only understands the link between the environmental destruction and the system of exploitation based on capitalism- but will put people’s interest before profit and establish a genuine alternative based on democratic socialism.
Thus, the task of creating a Nuclear free society internationally falls on the working people in every country, there is an urgent need and challenge to build a genuinely mass based political alternative that represents the interests of the vast majority of people which the New Socialist Alternative & Committee for a Workers’ International(CWI) is striving to build internationally.
We, the New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India), together with our sister organizations that form the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), Campaign to Reclaim Democracy (CRD), Tamil Solidarity & May 17 Movementabsolutely condemn the terrorism of the Indian state that has been unleashed against the people protesting against the nuclear plant in Kudankulam and stand in solidarity with People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) that is spearheading the protest against Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
Stop commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear plant immediately
Stop police brutality against the Kudankulam fighters and restore the democratic right to dissent & protest
An immediate halt to all existing and future nuclear power projects.
We demand massive public investment into renewable energy projects that are sustainable and environmentally friendly
An independent people’s enquiry into the health effects created by the nuclear power projects & proper relief and rehabilitation for those affected by nuclear power plants.
A complete review of the Indian official secrets act under which the Nuclear insanity is being perpetuated
A referendum of the people of Kudankulam and surrounding districts to decide on the future of the Nuclear Project there.
Let’s fight together for democratic, socialist planning to meet the needs of the masses for energy and the other commodities necessary for a decent standard of living!
No More Chernobyl, No More Three Mile Island, No more Fukushima!
Build a Nuclear free, democratic Socialist World
It is Better to Be Active now than Being Radioactive tomorrow!
The is statement issued by the New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) on the international day of solidarity with the anti-Kudankulam struggle on 24th October, 2012