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India: Eminent citizens condemn the state suppression of democratic rights at Koodankulam, on the eve of Independence Day

14 August 2012

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Dear Friends,

The Tamil Nadu government, the Govt. of India and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited are moving ahead with their plans to commission the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has given the necessary clearance for loading of fuel in Reactor-1, notwithstanding stiff public opposition to the project. The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is spearheading the struggle in Koodankulam, has strongly condemned the AERB’s decision.

The attached statement condemning the State suppression of democratic rights in Koodankulam has been endorsed by eminent personalities from all over the country, notably Mahashweta Devi, Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Vandana Shiva.

STATEMENT WITH LIST OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE ENDORSED IT

On the eve of Independence Day, we urge the State to put an end to the violent repression of a non-violent struggle at Koodankulam.

We have come to know of the unfortunate State suppression of people’s dissent with the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. People are upset about the unwillingness of the government and the nuclear establishment to share with them basic information, including information pertaining to the safety aspects of the Koodankulam Plant, especially after the Fukushima disaster of 2011.

The Prime Minister himself expressed concern about the liability issue about Reactors 3 and 4, in the event of a nuclear accident. Does not this issue of liability apply to Reactors 1 and 2? Meanwhile, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has given its clearance for fuel loading in Koodankulam Reactor-1. The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which has been at the forefront of the struggle, express their strong dissent with the undue haste with which the government has been proceeding to load the fuel without explaining to the country how it proposes to deal with the issue of inadequate fresh water required for the routine cooling of the reactors, the liability issue and its failure to implement the post-Fukushima Taskforce’s recommendations. A writ-petition filed at the Madras High Court has raised these issues, and the court is yet to deliver its verdict. The government’s and the nuclear establishment’s hasty decision to load the fuel before the court delivers its verdict challenges the position of the judiciary in this country.

In such a situation, it is but natural for people to express their dissent, which they have been doing in the most non-violent and democratic manner. We learn that the state government came down heavily on the protestors in March 2012, blocking all communication to the area and the supply of essential items, including food, water and milk. We now learn that the government is clamping down on the villagers with greater force, declaring Sec. 144 and blocking all movement of people within and between villages. This is in addition to the numerous false cases that local protestors have been charged with, over the past one year, for peacefully protesting against the plant.

On the eve of Independence Day, we urge the state to put an end to the violent repression of the non-violent struggle at Koodankulam. We appeal to the nation’s conscience, to honour peoples’ right to dissent, which is one of the core values of a democratic system.

We urge the government to withdraw all false cases against the peaceful satyagrahis of Koodankulam and to withdraw all prohibitory orders from the area, including Sec.144, so that normalcy can be restored. In a democracy like ours, state violence through police action cannot and should not be the approach to resolving dissent. We call upon the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Kum. Jayalalitha to stop police repression and to engage in an open dialogue with the peaceful protestors at Koodankulam. We call upon the Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to review the situation and to ensure that the liability issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the people of this country, especially the people of Koodankulam. We urge the Prime Minister to initiate a broad-based and transparent national debate on nuclear energy keeping in mind concerns related to safety, viability and the adverse social and environmental impacts of nuclear plants.

Notable people who have endorsed the statement from different parts of India include

Mahashweta Devi

Medha Patkar

Aruna Roy

Swami Agnivesh

Vandana Shiva

Prashant Bhushan

Sandeep Pandey

Shailesh Gandhi, Former Chief Information Commissioner

Nikhil Dey

Shankar Singh

Vinod Raina

Praful Bidwai

Achin Vinaik

Alok Agarwal (Narmada Bachao Andolan)

Arundhati Dhuru

Prof Devaki Jain

Kavitha Kuruganti (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture)

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat (RTI Movement, Jammu and Kashmir)

Prahlad Shekhawat (Director, Alternative Development and Research Centre, Jaipur).

Pradip Pradhan

Jayati Ghosh

Sowmya Sivakumar, Jaipur

Jayanti Banerjee

Kiran Bhatty

EAS Sharma

Ramesh Nandwana (Jungal Jameen Jan Andolan)

Shripad Dharmadhikary (Manthan Adhyayan Kendra)

Neeraj Jain, Lokayat

Namita Unnikrishnan

Saiket Dutta

Tarun Bhartiya

Puneeta Roy, Tehelka Foundation

Rajni Bakshi

Bela Bhatia

Krishnendu Bose, Earthcare Films

Bhaskar Prabhu (Mahiti Adhikar Manch, Maharashtra RTI Council)

PUDR, Delhi

Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai

Dunu Roy

Nandini Sahai

Smita Gupta

M G Devasahayam

Muthukrishnan

Amit Sengupta

Arati Chokshi (PUCL, Bangalore)

Sowmya Dutta (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Jadha)

Suvrat Raju

Advocate Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Wilfred D’Costa (Insaaf)

B G Kolse Patil

Shabnam Hashmi

Chaitanya Kalevar (Just One World)

Gopalkrishna

Nandan Mulaste

Aditya Vikram

Himanshu Kumar

Dipa Sinha

Mahtab Alam

Kavita Krishnan

Preeti Sampat

Manshi Asher (Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh)

List of People who endorsed the statement from Kerala

Just.V.R.Krishna Iyer

Sugutha Kumari

Benoy Vishwam

Prof.M.G.S.Narayanan

Prof M K Prasad(KSSP)

K Venu

Dr Sathis Chandran Nair

Dr S Santhi

Prof.M.P.Mathai

Father Thomas Kochery

Prof. R.V.G.Menon

Sri.B.R.P.Bhaskar

K Venu

Sri.Civic Chandran

T P Padmanabhan

Thayat Balan

Prof. Shobeendran

Kalpetta Narayanan

Alamcode Leelakrishnan

Prof.P.J. Joseph

P.A.Pouran

S. Usha, Thanal

Ajitha,K

Justice.P.K.Shamsudeen

Sarah Joseph

V.G.Thampy

Vaisakhan

Rosy Thampy

N Subramanian

K Sahadevan

K Ramachandran

Anitha Sharma

Ashok Sharma

Geo Jose

Jacob Vadakkanchery

Gokul V B Nair

Jyothi Krishnan

Abey George