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Mainstream, VOL L, No 40, September 22, 2012

Concerned Citizens’ Call: Suspend Work at Kudankulam, Talk to Protesters

Friday 28 September 2012

The movement against the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu has entered a new phase with a Jal Satyagraha following the repressive police action of September 10.

More than 120 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement expressing solidarity with the protesters, and calling for serious engagement with them on vital issues of safety.

The signatories include former Chief of Naval Staff L. Ramdas, former Cabinet Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian, former Planning Commission Member S.P. Shukla, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Chairman A. Gopalakrishnan, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A.P. Shah, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen, scientists P.M. Bhargava, D. Balasubramaniam, Satyajit Rath, M.V. Ramana and Suvrat Raju, social scientists Romila Thapar, Sumit and Tanika Sarkar, Rajeev Bhargav, Amit Bhaduri, Manoranjan Mohanty, Gyanendra Pandey, Achin Vanaik and Zoya Hasan, writers Adil Jussawalla, Arundhati Roy and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, dancer Leela Samson, artists Ghulam Shaikh, S.G. Vasudev, Vivan Sundaram and Sheba Chhachhi, and many other scholars and social activists such as Vandana Shiva, Aruna Roy and Ashish Kothari. 

We are appalled at the police repression unleashed against people protesting peacefully against the Kudankulam nuclear plant. The repression has forced them to take to a Jal Satyagraha.

Their legitimate, and as-yet-unaddressed, con-cerns about the plant’s safety were heightened by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s recent admission that it has not implemented the recommendations of its own review committee, including revision of safety parameters, and installation of backup freshwater and power sources. No emergency-evacuation drill was conducted as mandated, in a 16-kilometre radius, prior to fuel-loading. 

The government has refused to disclose pertinent information, including the Site Evaluation and Safety Analysis Reports, nuclear-waste management plans, and the agreement indemnifying the Russian supplier against accidents, which mocks the absolute liability principle. These documents need to be discussed publicly and at least with the people affected by the plant.

Instead, the government is accusing the protesters of sedition, and the protest of being “foreign”-inspired, despite an absence of evidence. This is part of a profoundly undemocratic pattern, recently increasing, of demonising dissent, dismissing people’s concerns about hazards, and brutally repressing protests.
We urge the government to suspend work at Kudankulam and engage directly and democra-tically with the concerns of the people who live in the vicinity, so that if the plant is to proceed it has their acceptance.

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