Monday, 2 September 2013

When People Lead Themselves


The people's struggle for survival is going on at Kudamkulam. They are retaining the strength of the agitation without any support from political parties. Now in India, it's a fact that a lot of people's struggles are conducted without the support of mainstream political parties. Kudamkulam agitaion is the strongest among them. The people of Kudamkulam know why they are agitating. Do we need more nuclear plants? State says that we need more nuclear plants to meet our energy needs and there is no alternative for nuclear energy. When the world refuses to establish new nuclear plants, The Government of India says nuclear energy is essential for satisfying our energy needs. India only produces 4,780 MW of electricity through nuclear energy. It's only 2.9% of the total production of electricity in India. 

But what is the approach of developed countries towards nuclear energy? It's a fact that they are not planning to start new plants and they are thinking about decommission of the existing plants. Nuclear power projects are dangerous as well as expensive than any other type of power projects. When a nuclear tragedy happens, it doesn’t end there, it spreads to generations. The world has witnessed several nuclear tragedies like Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island, Fukushima etc. None of these areas have overcome the tragedy. Japanese nuclear scientists are still working hard to stop the radioactive leakage in Fukushima.

Kudamkulam project is not a transparent one. The authorities always keep secrecy on the progress of the project. The reactor parts of Kudamkulam plant is made by Sio Podolsk, a Russian company which faced Government probe in Russia for misdeeds. One of their officers was arrested in Russia for exporting low quality equipment. It's widely alleged that the reactor parts bought for Kudamkulam plant are of low quality. This became controversial after the arrest of Sio Podolsk officer. Manmohan Singh and his Government say that the nuclear plants in India are safe. But a survey conducted by Nuclear Energy International says that Indian nuclear plants are of bad quality. According to a study conducted by Helen Caldicott, a renowned physician and an anti-nuclear activist, Indian nuclear plants are the most polluted plants in the world. Even though major accidents have not happened in India, there were leakages and other serious problems occurred in Indian nuclear plants like Narora. The livelihood of a large number of people at Kudamkulam is based on fishing. It’s a fact that the nuclear plant will adversely affect their livelihood. 

If we look at the total production of electricity in the world, we can find that the nuclear energy’s contribution is 14% only. USA has the most number of nuclear plants. There are 104 nuclear plants in USA. But the number of cancelled projects is more than this. They have decommissioned 28 plants yet. The Nuclear power industry is at a critical stage now. The contribution of nuclear power to the total production of electricity in the world is now only 10%. It was 21% in 2011. After Fukushima, the attitude and approach of International community towards nuclear energy has changed. Actually the Nuclear power industry considers a country like India as a good market. Central Government is now playing this nuclear politics in the name of energy scarcity and development. A similar people's struggle is going on at Jaitapur, Maharashtra against the Nuclear power project. But there, some political parties are supporting the people's movement unlike Kudamkulam. The responsible political parties in India have failed to clarify their stand towards nuclear energy. But the people can't wait for them to take leadership of the struggle. This is the question of people's survival.


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