Makkalatchi Iyakkam (Lok Raj Sangathan) together with People’s movement against Nuclear energy and Poovulagin Nanbargal (friends of nature) organized a consultative conference at Madurai on September 25, 2011. This conference was held in the backdrop of the partial victory achieved by the people of Tamil Nadu which forced the government of Tamil Nadu to request the Central Government to reconsider the commissioning of the Koodangkulam Nuclear plant. The aim of this conference was to take stock of the outcome of the recent struggle at Koodangkulam and plan the next steps to advance the cause. Over 150 activists from all over Tamil Nadu representing various organizations participated in this important meeting.
Thiru. S Raghavan, president of Makkalatchi Iyakkam was present for this important meeting. Congratulating the people and the organizers of the agitation at Idinthakarai, he said this steadfast struggle is standing out as an example for the struggle against the nuclear power projects and land acquisition programs of the government. People all over India are closely watching your struggle and drawing inspiration from it. It is very clear that there is urgent necessity to hold detailed discussions on the energy policy of this country involving the people and all organizations. Nuclear policy of the Indian government is part of their attempt to make India a super power. This not only risks the lives of large sections of people, but also does not serve the overall interests of majority of Indian people. We need to extend the realization and consciousness we people have on the dangers posed by the nuclear projects to the rest of the people in Tamil Nadu and all over India. This will help our cause and win all their support for our struggle. Thiru. S Raghavan made an offer to organize conferences cum agitation on the issue of Koodangkulam project and on Nuclear policy in Chennai and in Delhi together with People’s movement against Nuclear power and various other forces fighting the government on the same issue all over India.
Dr Lal Mohan, a long time activist against the Koodangkulam project presented scientific data and facts to state the danger it has posed for the people and the environment. He also stated their efforts to get responses from the authorities, but did not get them anywhere. He stressed the urgent need to change the energy policy of the government and make it focus on the environment friendly renewable sources.
The Conference was chaired by Thiru Y David, a veteran fighter against the Koodangkulam nuclear power from the 1980’s. He pointed out that vested interests are pursuing an aggressive capitalist path to become a world super power at the cost of vast majority of the Indian people. Nuclear policy they follow is part and parcel of this trend. Rulers are ignoring various alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy and tidal energy which can equally provide abundant energy for the all round development of Indian people. He also pointed out that these sources of power are by nature highly distributed and can facilitate an economy that is evenly spread and not corporate centric as is the case with Nuclear energy. The nuclear power projects and the nuclear policy which is anti-people has to be opposed without any compromise, he said.
Thiru Sundar Rajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal explained the tremendous damage the nuclear energy can cause to the environment and people. Authorities have not bothered to honour the responsibility to respect and nourish the nature. Nor they have shown any serious concern for the lives and livelihood of lakhs of people living in the region. We need to oppose this project unitedly and ensure that Tamil Nadu is nuclear free. He called on all the organizations to work single mindedly to fulfill the aspirations of the people.
Dr. SP Udayakumar – leader of People’s movement against Nuclear power who is leading the agitation at Koodangkulam, summed up the current struggle against the Koodangkulam nuclear project. He recalled the phases of the struggle from day the organization was formed on 10th of November, 2001. He elaborated the massive participation of the people and their determination to stop this dangerous and high risk project at any cost. Given the nature of this technology and environmental factors, he explained how the assurances and ‘guarantees’ provided by the government are false and hence not acceptable. He also refuted the argument that after spending hundreds of crores of money, why only now people are objecting to this project. He pointed out that right from day one, when the news came about the Koodangkulam project, people of Tamil Nadu especially people of this region have been opposing it. They have sent various memorandums to the government authorities, but all of which were ignored by them. From time to time, people have also organized various agitations which were not taken up seriously by the authorities. Till date the government has not come out with complete details of the project and did not consult people at any stage. But now, in the aftermath of Fukushima in Japan, people of Tamil Nadu escalated the struggle. Starting from 11th of September, 127 People – fishermen, students, peasants, professionals, disabled, workers, women, clergy, etc. went on indefinite fast supported by lakhs of people. They ended their fasting on the 12th day, after Chief Minister Jayalalitha passed a cabinet resolution and also wrote to the Prime minster to stop the project till people approve the project. Dr. Udyakumar mentioned that People’s representatives are expected to meet the Prime Minister in the first week of October to emphasize the need to close down this project. He declared that the struggle will continue. He asked for suggestions from the activists to further build and strengthen the agitation so that we can successfully close down the Koodangkulam nuclear power project and then take up agitations against the other nuclear programs in Tamil Nadu.
Thiru Baskar from Makkalatchi Iyakkam mentioned the historic responsibility people have placed on our shoulders in leading this struggle to completely eliminate the nuclear power plants from our country. He pointed out the aim of the government in building the nuclear power plant is to meet the aggressive growth targets of Indian and foreign corporations. In order to become a leading world super power, they want to exploit every resource – human and natural to its utmost. They do not care for the enormous risk they pose to the lives and livelihood of entire generations of people in this region. Fukushima is a recent example that such disasters can happen because of capitalist greed. We must oppose this drive of the government. We want to ensure that people are the decision makers on all matters of key importance including how the natural resources be deployed and used and not allow such decisions be made by a handful of vested interests. Hence this struggle to close down the Nuclear power plant must be combined with the struggle for establishing power in the hands of the people, he concluded.
Participants came forward with their suggestions. They expressed their clear determination to stop the Koodangkulam Nuclear project going forward. They gave various suggestions for extending and escalating the struggle. All the activists were unanimous in further uniting the people and taking this struggle forward till their demand to close down the nuclear power project is achieved.
Based on the various suggestions and inputs received from the activists, it was decided to further extend this struggle to all parts of Tamil Nadu. It was also decided to build support from all political forces for our demands. Committees were formed to deal with these issues.
The conference ended with a resolution to further escalate the struggle and establish a nuclear free Tamil Nadu.