An anti-nuclear protest demonstration was organized on December 8 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi by various organisations including CNDP, NAPM, AISA, INSAF, Delhi Forum, Delhi Solidarity Group, Delhi Platform, and Artists against Nuclear Power. Many activists who have been opposing the opening of the Kudangulam nuclear plant had come all the way from the site of the plant at Idinthakarai in Turnelveli district of Tamil Nadu to Delhi.
Livelihood and safety of millions of people and the fragile ecology in large parts of our country are being threatened today by the ruling elite’s nuclear power expansion. People in Kudangulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Gorakhpur (Haryana) and Kovada (Andhra Pradesh) have been vigorously battling against these projects.
Several speakers pointed out that the nuclear power projects will displace a large number of people and threaten livelihoods in surrounding areas. Fisherfolk in Kudangulam, Jaitapur and Mithivirdi, mango and cashew cultivators of jaitapur and farmers of Haryana and MP are being affected by the nuclear plants. The proposed nuclear plants are coming up in coastal regions and areas where the ecological balance is already under threat as government’s own reports admit. Some of the proposed reactor designs are new and untested. The nuclear industry in India has been known for their gross negligence of safety in the past. Nuclear power is inherently unsafe. While nuclear accidents have very large-scale and long-term consequences unlike other industrial accidents, even in the normal operation of reactors, workers and the local population are exposed to radiation which causes such as cancer, thyroid and leukaemia in the long-term. Investigations in Tarapur and Kalpakkam have already established these facts.
The President of Lok Raj Sangathan, Shri Raghavan, addressed the gathering and assured support for the just struggles of people affected by nuclear plants in several areas of the country. The central government is arguing that the first phase of the Kudangulam plant is ready and that it will be a huge waste of exchequer’s money if the plant is closed now. But the people of Kudangulam have been opposing the plant right from the stage of inception. He recalled the huge rally taken out from Kanyakumari to Nagercoil in 1999 in which he participated. The government does not consult the people on such important issues as the energy policy or the construction of a nuclear plant which can endanger the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people living in the area. The Indian ruling class is not interested in the views of the Indian people. It pays attention only to the demands of big monopolies and business houses who want to make super-profits from the sale and erection of nuclear plants.
He pointed out that till today the victims of the Bhopal gas disaster have not been given compensation and justice even after so many years. Just a few days back they had demonstrated in the same place at Jantar Mantar venting their anger against the callous treatment meted out by the Indian government all these years. He reiterated that as long as the people’s genuine concerns are not addressed, the government has no right to go ahead with the construction of nuclear plants.
An excellent cultural program by fisherfolk from Kudangulam attracted hundreds of spectators.