Kerala, Say We Do Not Want This Bad Electricity
“ Intha Ketta Minsaram Keralavikku Venda Ennu Chollu”
24 September, 2012
As Kerala waits for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant to complete fuel loading and start receiving 500 instead of the promised 266 MW of electricity to solve our so called Power Crisis, the struggle against Nuclear Energy demands this slogan of us: “Kerala, SAY WE DO NOT WANT THIS BAD ELECTRICITY.” The question that comes in automatically is: How can Nuclear Energy be bad? How can it not be, ask the people of Idintakarai as they sit waiting for some answer from the government regarding a few questions of immediate concern:
1. What stops the Government from stopping the ill-fated Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant?
2. How can we live in an area where Section 144 has been on for many months?
It makes the people of these “poor, innocent and illiterate” villages (as Narayanaswamy, Union Minister of State in PMO's Office refers to them) smirk in anger to know that India which does not have enough of its own reserves of uranium or nuclear fuel raw material sources is planning to produce 25% of the power from Nuclear energy by 2030! The nuclear fuel that Russia is importing to India will cost us a fortune along with the import of technology for 16 more reactors. India has given the go –ahead based on agreements with France , U.K, U.S.A, Canada and Korea . All of this will cost us money besides taking away land, resources, health and livelihood of the people. How safe and clean would this energy be?
How can energy that is produced from raw material that maims and contaminates life be safe, asked Chellamma of Idintakarai who lost her brother Sahayam on 13 th September when the coast guard aircraft flew low into the protestors standing in the sea. How would she have reacted if she had heard about the Jadugoda region in Jharkhand where the Uranium Mining Corporation's mines have made tribal population belonging to Santal, Munda and Ho sick with exposure to the lethal uranium? Or of the Rs 10.3 billion mine in Tummalapalle , Cuddappah district, Andhra Pradesh where 100 people resisting the unfair manner in which Public Hearing about the mines was balloted by police ? Or the farmers in the same fertile region questioned the depletion of ground water due to excessive pumping by the mines? Would it be fine to hear that the Olympic Dam mine, Australia 's largest Uranium mine has been polluting the precious water sources of many indigenous populations? India has entered an agreement with Australia , while in that country people are conducting a Walkabout to an Uranium mine near a lake bed. The pilgrimage as it is called is to put an end to the “ insidious, poisonous and obsolete industry” ( Australian Senator Scott Ludlam's Speech in the Senate dedicated to Koodankulam on ). There is an invisible connection with Kado Muir who is leading this pilgrimage and Chellamma of Idintakarai village who repeats “ This sand is sacred. Does it belong to the Government- this land and sea? It is ours. We have lived here for years. We will not leave it”.
“How can energy that is produced after spoiling the life and livelihood of the people in the affected area be clean?” asks the fishermen friends Elango, Antru, Sarathy ,Michel, Nishanth and others one evening as they sipped tea. There are more than 50 villages spread over the 3 districts, Thrunelveli, Kanyakumari and Tuticorin which are dependant on fishing and the seas. The hot water that comes out of the desalination plants and after cooling the reactors will increase the average temperature of water in the region from 26 degree centigrade to 35/45 degree centigrade. The fishes and prawns which are the major catch available now will be affected by the hot water. The water will also contain radio nuclides that will contaminate the life forms. This fish catch from the shores of these villages that reach other regions will be the messengers of disease and death. 10 year old Shyamili in Idintakarai whose mother Sundari was picked up by the Police on 10 th September asks anxiously “ When we export fish and prawns to other places, will not the health of children there be affected? “Kerala, we are going to get radiation cheap through this along with our own special sources in the IRE mining areas of Chavara belt.”
How can energy that is produced consuming one of the most precious of resources – fresh water be clean especially in an area where residents buy fresh water at the rate of Rs 2.50/ pot as the water supply is saline and cannot be used for cooking. The pressurized water reactor uses 3 million litres of fresh and pure water along with 7.2 billion litres of seawater every day. This is from the 6 desalination plants established with Israeli technology at a cost of Rs 1150 million. Any break in the supply of fresh water during the course of the operation of the Plant will lead to a disaster on par with Chernobyl or Fukushima . “ Kerala, when you could organize even school children to lose sleep and walk the streets demanding a decision on Mullaperiyar dam, why are you silent about the safety of KKNPP and loud about the electricity we might get?”
How can energy that is produced, distributed and made available at high cost be clean? As we move through the Koodankulam region, it is the high incidence of wind mills that strike us. The Thirunelveli district has been marked on the Wind Energy map of India where international investors like Suzlon and Vistas have moved in to establish wind farms. Of the 6007 MW Electricity produced from Wind Energy in Tamil Nadu, 3500 MW comes from this region. The cost at which Wind Energy is now available is calculated as 5 times less than the cost at which nuclear would be made available. There has been no studies published that has proven the cost effectiveness of nuclear energy. “ Kerala, should we buy 500 MW electricity from Koodankulam mixed with the tears, blood and life of people?”
How can energy be clean that spreads daily radiation at the rate of 50 trillion Becquerel's of assorted radionuclides every year into the atmosphere? The Tsunami rehabilitation colony situated just 900 metres away from the Plant has more than 2000 people living in it. The technology used for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Reactor has been proven to be accident prone which will put more than 30 million people within the high risk zone. “ Kerala, with Trivandrum and many places on the southern coast very much within this dreaded zone should we not say no to this electricity?”
It is high time we demanded a comprehensive policy and attitude about Energy in Kerala. We cannot afford to dam anymore of our rivers. Our forests and the biodiversity including the intensity of human dependency on it make it essential that we conserve every inch of it. We cannot have anymore thermal power plants given our experience with the Kayamkulam Thermal Power Plant. Apart from its impact on the delicate balance of wetlands, lakes and human livelihoods and its contribution to global warming, Kerala is not even able to access this power because of the cost. Then, how cheap would the electricity be just because we might get 500 MW from the KKNPP?
This is the support we should give to the people struggling against the KKNPP for almost 3 decades. To say No to this bad and unclean power from Koodankulam. To seek solutions to the so-called energy crisis by talking about energy conservation, decentralized forms of energy generation, to other renewable sources of energy and so on. Like the 2 young boys touched by the questions raised by the anti-nuclear movement who are building a miniature Energy Park in their garden converting the yellow domes of the KKNPP into surfaces that catch the abundant tropical sun along with wind mills and turbines that make hydro-power. Like the youth of Idintakarai, Koodankulam and Koottapulli who have a dream of making the campus of KKNPP into a super-facility centre. Or the intense wish of a 25 year old “We will work for 8 months and give back the Rs 14,000 crores the Government claims to have invested.” We should be inspired by the confidence and dedication of the people rather than feel this is a failed struggle.
Kerala, say aloud that we do not want this dirty and unclean source of energy!!!
Anitha.S ( email@example.com )
1.PMANE Expert Committee Report, 25 February 2012
2.www.dianuke.org- Australian Senator Scott Ludlam on Koodankulam – Sept 18,2012
3. www.dianuke.org 19 Sept 2012 : Koodankulam: Way out of the Nuclear Mess: M.G.Devasahayam
4.Conversations with women, youth and children of Idintakarai.
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