Statement of Lok Raj Sangathan, March 23, 2012

Recently, both the central government and the Tamil Nadu state government have launched an all-out offensive against those protesting the commissioning of the Kudangulam nuclear plant. Hundreds of protestors have been detained all over the state. The state police have banned media coverage from the protest site near the nuclear plant. These repressive measures have started after the Jayalalitha government gave the go-ahead for the nuclear plant a few days ago, presumably after reaching some secret deal with the central government.

People living near the nuclear plant have been opposing its commissioning on various grounds such as doubts over the safety of the nuclear plant, loss of livelihood, fear of displacement, etc. Both the central and state governments have turned a deaf ear to these genuine concerns of the people and have callously ordered their security forces to stifle the voices of dissent.

The central and state governments have declared that they have taken all measures to ensure the safety of the people in the building of the nuclear plant. But can they be believed? The people have had bitter experience on many earlier occasions with the assurances of the government. In the Bhopal gas tragedy which took place in 1984, it is estimated that more than 10,000 people were killed and 550,000 people were injured. To this day, those affected by the horrible tragedy are yet to receive adequate compensation and have been left to fend for themselves. The then chairman of Union Carbide, which was responsible for the disaster, was allowed to leave the country scot free in connivance with the central and state government ministers and officials. Since then several disasters have taken place and the people have had the same bitter experience. So, why should the people of Kudangulam now believe the assurances of the government that their interests have been taken care of in the construction of the plant?

Struggles against the construction of nuclear plants and other large projects have been going on in many other places as well such as in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Gorakhpur in Haryana, Posco in Odisha and so on. In many areas of India, nuclear plants, construction projects, steel plants, SEZs, etc are being foisted on the people in the name of development, without any regard to their livelihood and safety. In many places the people are being forcibly deprived of their land in the name of “public purpose”. Various political parties accuse us of being against development. But this is not true. What we are against is the fact that the majority of our people have no say in decisions that affect their lives. The present political system keeps us on the sidelines. Other than voting for this or that party of vested interests once in a few years, we have no other rights in this system. We remain helpless victims of decisions taken by big moneyed interests.

Only when we, the people, take power in our hands can we have a say in ensuring that all industrial and infrastructure projects ensure the safety, security and livelihood of the people and directly contribute to their well-being. For this to happen, we have to bring about a fundamental transformation in the political and electoral process so that people take the centre-stage in determining the economic and political course of the country. We have to build our own organs of power in villages, mohallas, residential colonies and workplaces. We have to demand a say in running the day-to-day affairs of the country.

Lok Raj Sangathan demands that the central and state governments should immediately halt the repression let loose on the people opposing the Kudangulam nuclear plant.

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