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Our Amma Desecrated

By The Women of Idinthakarai

31 July, 2013

Almost a fortnight after the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant attained criticality, we the women went and sat by the beach in our coastal village Idinthakarai in Thirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. We looked at the gentle waves coming ashore over the rocky ledges that line our coast. The monsoon winds had receded and the sea looked calm and blue. We hear that the Plant will start commercial production of 1000 mw of electricity within 45 days and the power much needed to solve the terrible power cuts and shortages will be solved for ever.

Last year when men from our village and many other villages went to the sea in boats and protested, many of us women wanted to join. For us The Sea is our Mother. She gives us our life, livelihood and purpose to live. Some of us feel the sea is our Thai veedu( Mother’s home) which we go to when our minds are joyous or troubled. As we hear and understand more about the Nuclear Power Plant which is supposed to have started working, we are afraid for our Mother Sea. We know and foresee what it will do to our bodies, to our wombs, skins, lungs, our health and confidence. We have seen the Hiroshima maidens, the Children of Chernobyl and the Women of Fukushima who are living reminders of what humankind should and could have avoided. We wonder if there would be an adjective for us too, forced to live so close to one of the largest nuclear reactor complex in the country.

Yes, we know it all. But today we worry about our mother, the Sea. Some feel we should go and ask her forgiveness for what we are doing to her. We should tell her that though we tried our best to stall and stop the functioning of the plant, we were not able to. We have been pushed back to the wall with our voices muted and our minds paralyzed by fear. Today we also know that a nuclear reactor which produces 1000 mw electricity taking sea water as coolant after desalination will discharge 6.3 billion (630 crore) litres of hot water which is waste water along with desalination rejects and effluents that contain low-level radioactivity. We wonder whether adjectives like low-level added on to words like radioactivity will reduce or nullify the impacts. Is there anything like a good murder? Or a great killer?

We are shocked to know that these effluents and water will be reaching the sea through an open effluent channel out of the compound wall of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has issued license for this open discharge to Units 1 and 2 of the KKNPP. The discharge will be not into another planet but into the beaches and the sea water close to our homes. Yes, the same beach and sea which we are now watching. Is it wrong to worry about our children who spent a lot of their free time on the beaches which are so safe and clean? About us, women who wait every morning for hours for our men to come ashore with fish catch?

We are concerned about the 7 degree Celsius rise in temperature that our sea mother will have to bear when hot water reaches the coast. With an average temperature range of 26-27 degree Celsius, our seas are good harvesting grounds for prawns and lobsters besides fishes like sardines, mackerels and the tuna. We do not have to be trained economists to tell you that our annual fish catch and landing in 2010 was 14,000 tons. Our nets literally “boil” with the living bodies of lobsters and prawns during a good fishing season. The rocky ledges near the coast are ideal aggregation grounds for the shell fishes. We do not have to be biologists with heavy degrees to tell that shell fish would accumulate poisons more than many other marine life. We worry about our export market connections that buy our marine catch directly from the villages.Will the lorries that ice the fishes directly from the beaches no longer come here?

They say fishes will swim away when the heat rises near shore. But what about the impact of hot water on sessile creatures and plankton and algae which are the food for larger life forms? We know that the rise in temperature will reduce the oxygen dissolved in the sea from the atmosphere. So the algae and plankton that purify the Body of Our Mother Sea will die.Along with this the oxygen needed for her to breathe so all life that depends on her can live will be reduced. So we worry if Our Mother herself will die or will be polluted!

Last September when the Police came into our village and destroyed the Church and idols of our beloved Mother Mary, we cleaned the inside of the Church, asked for forgiveness and installed a new idol.We used sea water to clean the Church. For us sea water is the purest of all. But if the Sea water itself becomes impure and unsafe, what will we wash ourselves with?

These thoughts trouble us as we sit near the beach and watch the waves come stronger when tide builds up

( Anitha.S in conversation with women friends of Idinthakarai village and after reading Nityananad’s article in http:// www.rediff.com/ news/column. ‘Criticality may mean death for Koodankulam’s Sea’
July 31st 2013.





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