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Koodankulam: The Right To Live, Feel, Think And Be Free

By Anitha.S

13 December, 2012

Today is the World Human Rights Day. In this one month, it is the second time that we are observing days of international importance. The last one was the World Fisheries Day on November 21st. We realize that whichever day it is, our demands do not change in its focus. Here in this remote fishing village of Idinthakari located 500metres – 4 kilometres from the domes of Reactor 1 and 2 of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant conceived by the leaders and scientists of 2 countries long back, we demand that the plant be closed. In November , we along with fisherfolk the world over demanded for an ocean free of nuclear contamination and waste. Today we demand that the KKNPP be closed as it violates our every existence as human beings in this part of the world.

Just the day before, 7 young boys from village who went visiting a friend’s chicken farm was picked up by the Police. They were detained, some were let off after many hours and 2 have been detained. There is panic and sorrow in our minds. We know that there are police watching our movements all the time. Though Xavier Ammal and Selvi came home for a short while, we were saddened that the Trio has been separated with Sundari alone in Trichy jail. We are not able to confidently and fearlessly move to the surrounding villages, to shop for provisions, give our clothes for stitching, buy new clothes for Xmas, see a movie…. It must be months since we did all this. We remember the fear with which we travelled to Chennai in September for a Press Conference – how we were kind of hounded and questioned. It is not only when we declare an action program to proclaim our resistance that we are cornered. Literally, our whole life, every single moment has become moments of resistance and struggle. Is that not why we are being surrounded by the forces of power and subjugation.

We all went to the sea today and stayed in the boats from morning to evening. Many of us women stayed in the Samara pandal and discussed our life and future. We understand that many media reported that there was less vigour and participation today. Can you imagine today is 480 days since we have entered this phase of the struggle? 480 days since we have slept in our homes at night, during day, cooked and cleaned without thought of having to go to the Samara pandal. We have kept the spirit and determination undiminished because we have no vested interests. We have no personal gain or benefit from this. But we are convinced that by this, we will gain a life, a life of peace, health and hard honest work. On this Human Rights Day, we only want to share with the world this single demand.

We feel it is our right to live in this land as our forefathers have done, in our homes built and maintained over the years, going to the sea and eating fish we bring ashore with joy and pride. After joining the struggle to ascertain this basic human right to live in dignity and health, we have realized that there are more rights that humans need and should be aware of. We knew when we returned our Voters Identification Cards last year as a gesture of protest that as a Citizen exercising his/ her adult Franchise in a democratic country with electoral rights, we do have the right to withdraw from the process if our demands are not listened to or considered. If the right to vote is based on equality, then how can we be less equal as is the situation now?

We have realized the depth of the lies and hidden truths associated with the execution of the KKNPP. Just a few days ago when the Supreme Court expressed concern about the storage of Nuclear waste from KKNPP, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India stated that it will be taken to the abandoned mines of the Kolar Gold Mines already laid waste. When there was immediate hue and cry, the responsible person in the Prime Minister’s Office assured that there was no such plan. Is it not our right to know the truth and facts? We have been demanding that all the facts associated with the KKNPP be shared with us- the Site Evaluation Report, the Environmental Assessment Report, The Safety Analysis Report and so on. If we are the “poor and illiterate people out there “ then all the more reason that these documents be made in a language that we understand. When the Supreme Court orders that Safety Drills be conducted in 40 villages within the vicinity of the KKNPP, should we not know which all are the ones?

Just a day ago, we also read that the Plant will be soon Commissioned coinciding wonderfully with the visit of Russian President for the 13th India-Russia Summit. But with so many questions that the Supreme Court has sought comprehensive answers from the Centre,how can the go ahead be given so confidently? Is that not a negation of the right of all those who have sought justice ? We are not able to reason with this at all.

The day was hot and sunny. But our minds picked on the threads of news about people all over the country who are observing this day demanding the right to life, livelihood, safe secure living conditions, access to water, food and air… We know that we have support all over the world too. This is our strength and we will continue this struggle till our rights are given to us.

People of Idinthakarai
(as told to Anitha.S on 11.12.2012)



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