Kudankulam: A brief history and a recent update

These are moments when spaces like Kafila become so important.

On the 19th of March, news came in that Tamilnadu Police men of six districts led by the ADGP for Crime of the Tamilnadu Police, Mr. O.S.George were sent to Kudankulam. This meant 6000 armed police men, 3 DIGs and 20 SPs were in Kudankulam. The TV reports, when they were still possible, showed police violence and extensive police presence in the village. We also saw women from Kudankulam, the backbone of the movement, declaring that there will be a strong people’s response to this violence and that they cannot be taken peaceful protest cannot be taken for granted. The first project taken up by the police seems to have bee to block off the village from any outsiders.  Nearby villagers who tried to approach the villages by sea were also arrested by the police. As of now, all roads to the village have been blocked. Communication systems have been tampered with. 

All this was on day one. The English media was still reporting. The Tamil media, not as loudly as they should be, reported to some extent. Jayalalitha’s timing for this operation of course is impeccable. With the focus on the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, the by-polls in Sankarankoil district and the ongoing and upcoming cricket matches, where is the space on the TV screen or the newspapers, especially since the first pages of most English newspapers are reserved for Ads nowadays. The English newspapers in Tamilnadu have practically gone silent on this siege on Kudankulam as of this morning.  Some them in fact went on to extensively provide space for persons working in the Plant on how to ‘make up for lost time’. The Tamil media is trying to cover it as much as they can.

Let’s rewind back to the beginnings of the struggle in Kudankulam. The Plant that was thought of and announced in 1988 has seen protests since its very inception.  The early protests spear headed by activists and intellectuals in Chennai and Kanyakumari regions saw many protests, human chains, press conferences and hall meetings. Progressive movements wrote extensively on the ills of the nuclear plant. At that time, there was an overwhelming focus on environmental issues and the language was not s much about the welfare of the people. Around 1990, the protests became quieter with the lull, the fatigue and disillusionment that had hit due to various reasons, local and international among left voices in India and elsewhere. This was further heightened by the newly emerging neo-liberal policies of the Indian state.

Some versions of the history claim that these early struggles did not have much impact or support among the people of Kudankulam. In fact, the local dynamics between the upper caste Nadar community and the fisher people and the fissures within are seen as significant reasons for the lack of support. These fissures, it is argued were encouraged by various actions of successive governments in Tamilnadu.   The issues seem to have had another period of focus from anti-nuclear protesters in 2001-02 when talk of the plant came up again. The protests gained ground among the people of Kudankulam after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Ironically, a new life was given to the Anti-Nuclear protests after this disaster.  Further, the job opportunities that were promised to the local people did not come to any fruition even after 22 years since the announcement of the plant and it became clear to the people that this plant will not be any good for their lives and livelihoods.

In the midst of this, in the late 90s, Udayakumar, one of the leaders of the struggle at present returned from study and work abroad. He and his wife began a school in Kudankulam and continued to work tirelessly on the struggle against the Nuclear Plant. This phase of the protests has been rather visible. Many progressive groups have come together to protest the nuclear plant. These unlikely alliances have given strength and visibility to the movement. Most importantly, the people of Kudankulam, particularly the fisherwomen have left a lasting impression on so many in Tamilnadu with their stunningly calm, composed, clear and passionate speeches on why they do not what the Nuclear plant.

This is what has happened over the last few days. After the police went in, the paramilitary have been brought in from different parts of the country. Section 144 has been declared in the area. Around a 1000 people have been arrested, mostly common people, under an array of charges including Sedition and inciting Communal Violence. It is being suspected that these people might have been taken to Kadalur or Madurai jails. The police themselves are spreading news about the torture of these people taken under remand in order to spread fear among the people.

As of now the picture is this: Udayakumar and other major leaders of the struggle are on an indefinite hunger strike. Around 6000-8000 women and children from the village have surrounded this small group of people. These women are surrounded by Tamilnadu Women Police around who are the paramilitary forces. The police men brought in on the first day have been spread out all around the area to block entry or exit from the area.  The Tamilnadu police have requested that the people hand over leaders Udayakumar and Pushparayan in return for all the security personnel being removed from their village. The people have declared that if they want to arrest, they should arrest each and every one of them and charge them all with Sedition if that is going to be the charge on their leaders.

As I write this piece press people are being allowed in slowly. A few pieces of rigorous reportage are trickling in.

In the mean time, two separate pieces of news have come from sources around the village. Last night, the school run by Udayakumar and Meera Udayakumar was burnt to cinders. This school that has around 250 students had a well equipped library which has now been burnt to ashes. The hand of the local right wing group, Hindu Munnani and some Congress goons are suspected. It has also come to my knowledge that a few members from within the community are being turned against the struggling people and have been made to threaten the fisher people and Udayakumar’s family with dire consequences if they proceed with the struggle.

This replaying of an old game is incredibly sinister and sadistic at this given stage. While struggling people are confident that the people are strong enough to withstand these attempts at dividing them, they are worried to even leave the vicinity of their homes on the beach in the fear that the paramilitary and police will burn down their homes.

The urgent need is for journalists to pour into the village and cover as many of the layers of violence and the struggle of the people to withstand and oppose it.

While the Tamilnadu government flexes its muscles and is attempting to show the state, the country and the world that they will go to any length to complete a project that is blatantly harmful and proven to be unsustainable and unnecessary; the people of Kudankulam and everyone who is standing by them at this moment are telling the world in no uncertain terms that they will fight no matter what.

As I write this parents of children who were to appear for their 12th standard board exams from Kudankulam are worried for their future. The people are worried about the increasing patrolling of the coast which was their only possible exit out of the area so far. They fear that it will be a blockade with no food or any other essentials being able to enter the area. News has come in that a woman who is in labour pain in Idinthakarai is not being allowed by the police to leave in order to get to a hospital. News has come in of a dead body being disposed off in the ocean as the people of the village could not perform the last rites due to the siege on the village. Very little news is coming out in the mainstream media and the violence is only mounting manifold with ever passing moment.

A moment in the history of state repression and the strength of people’s movements is being created as you read this piece. The question for all the readers is: Which side of history do you want to be on?

Click here for regular updates on Kudankulam.

Long live the Struggle Against Nuclear Power Plants!

Long live the struggle of the People of Kudankulam! 

5 thoughts on “Kudankulam: A brief history and a recent update”

  1. Nuclear Experts giving a clean chit to Kudankulam Project is like….

    America giving clean chit to invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan……Monsanto giving clean chit to GM crops…..Union Carbide giving clean chit to Warren Anderson…..Rapists giving clean chit to Rape…..Murderers giving clean chit to Murder…..Alcoholics giving clean chit to Alcohol…..Smokers giving clean chit to Cigarettes.

    Nuclear Experts will always give clean chit to nuclear projects……..always……. always……always.

    Nuclear Experts will always give approval to nuclear projects……..always……. always……always.

    Nuclear Experts will always give green signal to nuclear projects……..always……. always……always.

    There are thousands of nuclear professionals working with Nuclear Industry…….If nuclear projects are stopped they will become jobless/ unemployed……..so they will always give approval to nuclear projects…….always…..always….always.

    Every Political Party in India and elsewhere in the world is promoting Growth Rate, Economy Rate and GDP……which requires setting up of more and more Power Plants…..more and more Nuclear Power Plants.

    Every Political Party has become an Eco-Killer, Eco-Murderer and Eco-Terrorist.

    Development is Destruction……..Development is Destruction.

    “Growth Rate” – “Economy Rate” – “GDP”
    These are figures of “Ecocide”.
    These are figures of “Crimes against Nature”.
    These are figures of “Destruction of Ecosystems”.
    These are figures of “Insanity, Abnormality and Criminality”.

    Promoters of Growth Rate, Economy Rate & GDP are the biggest Killers, Murderers & Terrorists on earth.

    People who claim that “nuclear energy is safe” should be bathed with nuclear waste.

    People who claim “nuclear energy is safe” should be force-fed a spoonful of nuclear material every day.

    People who claim that “nuclear energy is safe” should be forced to live in Chernobyl and Fukushima.

    Claiming that nuclear plants are Not Harmful is like claiming that the Sun is Not Hot.

    Height of Insanity…………Insanity raised to the power of Infinity.

    Promoters of Nuclear Industry and Technology are the biggest criminals…….the biggest killers, murderers and terrorists on earth.

    Stop Kudankulam / Jaitapur Nuclear Plants in India….Stop Nuclear Plants everywhere in the world.

    “Demand for energy is rising…..therefore we need more Power Plants…..more Nuclear Power Plants”.

    Who made this rule…..Which Idiot made this rule?????

    Rising demand for energy has destroyed all ecosystems.

    Excessive use of energy has destroyed all ecosystems.

    Demand for energy has to be minimized…….Not fulfilled.

    This planet can provide energy for simple living…..not for consumerist living.

    This planet can provide resources for simple living…..not for consumerist living.

    This planet can provide energy & resources for food, clothing and shelter….not for thousands of consumer goods and services.

    Nuclear Material is harmful wherever it exists…..Nuclear Mines…Nuclear Power Plants… Nuclear Ships… Nuclear Submarines… Nuclear Satellites…Nuclear Weapons..…….its very existence is harmful.

    Exposure to Nuclear Radiation leads to Death…Cancer…Multiple Organ Failures…Genetic Mutations…Physical Deformities…Mental Abnormalities……..For generations to come.

    Industrial Society continues to spread the blatant lie…..

    that another Chernobyl, another Fukushima will not happen,

    that another Gulf Oil Disaster, another Bhopal Gas Tragedy will not happen.

    Blatant lie, blatant lie….

    As long as industry exists industrial accidents will continue to happen.
    They will only get bigger and bigger.

    Bigger the industry bigger the industrial accident.

    Nuclear material is the most dangerous, toxic and hazardous thing on earth.

    It was burried deep under the earth.

    Man brought it to the surface, refined it to create thousands of tonnes of the most toxic substance that will remain radioactive for thousands of years – and is using it all over the world.

    Once created nuclear material keeps poisoning humans, animals, plants, air, water and soil for thousands of years.

    Nuclear material has poisoned /contaminated the entire planet.
    There are 500 Nuclear Power Plants, Hundreds of Nuclear Weapons producing sites, thousands of Nuclear Research Centers, Hundreds of Nuclear Powered Ships and Submarines, Hundreds of Nuclear Powered Satellites.

    The land, the water, the air……. The entire planet has been poisoned.

    Nuclear material is the most dangerous material – it should not even be created – it should not even be brought into existence.

    Everyone comes to know about Aeroplane Accidents, Car Accidents and Train Accidents ………because they are visible.

    Nuclear Accidents are different…… people only come to know about Nuclear Accidents which happen with big explosions. People do not come to know about silent Nuclear/ Radiation Leakages because they are invisible and can only be known to people who have access to Radiation Monitoring Equipment. These leakages don’t get reported in the media because people who run nuclear facilities are not going to report themselves – they are not going to report their own crimes.

    Thousands of accidents involving nuclear/ radiation leakages are happening every day but they are never reported. Soil, Water and Air are getting contaminated with nuclear radiation at thousands of places around the world every day.

    Once created nuclear material keeps poisoning humans, animals, plants, air, water and soil for thousands of years.

    People who produce nuclear material – people who transport it all over the world – people who promote its use in Power Plants and Industrial Activity are the biggest criminals – biggest killers, murderers and terrorists on earth.

    Government is accusing NGO”s of using Foreign Funds for Anti Kudankulam Nuclear Plant agitation……So What?????……So What?????…….So What????

    If the Government can use Foreign Funds to Destroy ecosystems in the name of Progress, Growth & Development then why can’t NGO’s use Foreign Funds to Save ecosystems?????

    Stop Kudankulam / Jaitapur Nuclear Plants in India……Stop Nuclear Plants everywhere in the world.

    “Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment”


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