From Fr. Thomas Kocherry, Prof Banwarilal Sharma, Neeraj Jain:
Plan to take out a vallam (boat) rally in Ramnad district of Tamil Nadu in support of the struggle against Kudankulam nuclear plant, Feb 2 to 11, 2012
This is a report of my visit to Kudankulam area which I had visited with Fr Tom Kochhery and Prof Banwarilal Sharma.
We three had visited the coastal villages of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, to see the possibility of mobilising the fisherfolk for a boat rally in support of the Kudankulam struggle. We visited some villages in Kerala on Jan 1, and then villages in Kanyakumari district of Kerala on Jan 2, and finally met the fishermen\\\’s union of Ramnad district on Jan 3 and 4. The Fishermen\\\’s union of Ramnad district (the district where Rameshwaram temple is located, to give you an idea of where it is) agreed to take out a rally in support of the people\\\’s struggle against the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant. This union has units in all the 104 coastal villages of the district, and they had protested long back against the Kudankulam nuclear plant during the years when the construction was in its initial stages. So they readily agreed to our proposal. The idea is that once this boat rally is organised, we can reach out to other districts and organise similar rallies there too.
Fisherfolk from 104 villages coming out on their own to protest the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant in a massive demonstration lasting for 10 days would be a grand affair, and will make big news and have a fantastic effect all over Tamil Nadu. It will give a big boost to the fantastic struggle of the people of South Tamil Nadu fighting the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant for more than 3 months now. So it is an exciting development.
The program which was chalked out in the meeting is as below:
*1. The Fishermen\\\’s Union will organise a Boat Rally (called a Vallam Rally). It will be a chain rally, with fishing boats or Vallams from the first village going to the second village, and then they will return, while the fishing boats from the second village will go to the third village, and then return and the fishing boats from third village will go the fourth village, and so on. The entire district\\\’s coastal belt will thus be covered, from one end to the other. *
2. This will take a total of 10 days. The tentative dates for the Vallam Rally are February 2 to 11.
3. Non fishing people are not allowed on the fishing boats, so the outsiders like us attending the rally will be taking out a vehicle rally, which will be parallel to the boat rally. The vehicle rally will go along the coastal belt, addressing meetings and distributing pamphlets.
4. The final details of the boat rally and the entire program will be worked out in a meeting to take place on Jan 18, at Ramnad, in the office of the fishermen\\\’s union. Fr Tom Kocherry and Udaykumar will be attending the meeting.
5. A mass signature campaign will be carried out during the boat rally and vehicle rally, to be submitted to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, which will demand that the Nuclear Plants all over the country be shut down, and that the Centre releasing 1000 MW of electricity from the central pool to Tamil Nadu, and also that the Centre provide free CFL bulbs which can be distributed all over the state so that energy consumption of the state decreases. This last demand is actually calling for the implementation of a Central Govt plan to increase energy savings in the country. The signature campaign will also include two demands of the fishermen, that they be allowed to fish in the Marine Protected Areas for their livelihoods, and that the ban on catching Sea Cucumbers be lifted. These are two longstanding demands of the fishermen.
6. The expenses for the Vallam Rally will be borne by the Fishermen\\\’s union. The expenses for the Boat Rally will be borne by us. The total expenses expected are in the range of Rs. Seventy Thousand, as there will be at least two vehicles, one minibus and one jeep, for 10 days. Then we will need a powerful sound system. Apart from this, we will need pamphlets. Muthukrishnan has published a booklet in Tamil on nuclear energy that too can be sold on the way.
*7. So, this mail is to:
i) Invite you to participate in this rally. We invite you to join us in this Vallam Rally. It may not be possible for you to join us for all the 10 days, so you may volunteer for 3-4 days, anytime between Feb 2 and 11. The food and local travel will be looked after by us, the travel expenses to Ramnad and back will have to be borne by you.
ii) Invite contributions for this rally. We need to raise Rs. 70,000. We need around 15 people contributing Rs. 5000 each for this rally, and that would be enough to make this program a reality. *in solidarity,
Neeraj Jain, Lokayat
"Mrudanga", Bldg No. 3A, Flat No. 6,
Naad Brahma Society, Warje,
Pune – 411 058
Ph. Mobile 094222 20311