We Are Not Asking For Time
By Anitha S
16 January, 2013
We, the children of Idinthakarai village the centre of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy feel so happy that within a span of few days we have celebrated New Year twice. On Dec 31st 2012, we welcomed 2013 standing on the shores of our dear sea along with friends from all over India. Now on Jan 14th the Pongal day, we have had a full day of celebrations proclaiming our right to live in a safe and secure environment in the villages where we were born and to pursue lifestyles and livelihoods of our choice.
On both days, our resolve to resist and proclaim our determination to continue the struggle against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant got strengthened. On Jan 14th we were joined by young brothers from Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh where a Nuclear Power plant is just being planned and where resident communities have started their struggle. It gives us strength to know that all over our country, people are taking cue from us and starting peaceful and rightful fight to live.
Many think that we are asking for time.Each time the authorities delay the commissioning of the plant or the Supreme Court asks for a clarification, it seems like we, the affected people are benefiting by getting some more time when decisions are delayed. But we are not asking for time. We are demanding the Right to live, as we have said so many times. The more the delay, the more it is obvious that things are not so fine with the project. Now they say it is the quest for perfection that is making them prolong the actual power generation process ! We are demanding that it be proven that our lives so near the plant will be safe and secure. That not even an iorta of radiation will penetrate our bodies or that of the plants and animals that live here. That the sea water will be cool and clean like never before. That the lobsters and prawns, the sardines and mackerels, the sharks and pomfrets will swim the waters like never before. That is all we ask. We are not asking for time, but for life and safety. And we keep saying NO to anything that does not assure us atleast this much.
On Dec 31st 2012, we drew on the wall opposite the Church- if you look at the painting there is so much NO in it. No wonder, the small babies in our village utter the word NO as much as they call out Amma daily. But we want little Ashwin and baby Udaya born a few months back to be able to grow up uttering not just No but Yes. Yes to life and its beauties. We want their mothers and grandmothers to stay at home and look after them, instead of having to go every day to the Samara Pandal. We want the authorities to listen to us, dialogue with us and solve the issue respecting our demands and concerns. We are not asking for gold and riches, but for life.
We are so happy to know that very soon a Reading Space or library with books and games will be set up in the village for us, children to look and read at books. Many have contributed books, especially in Tamil for us to read. We are glad to be able to go through big picture books with sea animals and plants. We want to be able to refer to dictionaries and improve our language and writing skills. Because we know that we have to be our own voice and pen.
Yesterday, many of us drew our hearts out about the Nuclear Power Plant. It must be more than a year since we have thought, dreamt or even talked about anything other than the impact of nuclear energy. We wrote essays and poems on this. We have made speeches and travelled with the message of peace. Is it not clear that we are not asking for time? We are asking for the right to play and learn, to read and write, to eat and sleep, to fight and fall ill like any child anywhere in the world. We are proud to grow up with the Porattam, to fight with our parents for life, but we are also demanding that we be given our simple lives by the seashore, growing crops in our inland villages. This is what we want on this New Year day. We want you to resolve along with us that the security and safety, the happiness and peace of the citizens should be the most important concerns of a democratic government.
Anitha.S in conversation with the children and youth of Idinthakarai village on 14th Jan 2013.
The images are from KAMARU DEEN AND AMIRTHARAJ STEPHEN
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