The Weekend Leader - Battle lines drawn

Anti-nuke activist likens Kudankulam struggle to David Vs Goliath battle



Vol 3 | Issue 8

The protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is a classic David-Goliath fight between ordinary citizens and the powerful Indian government, the leader of the anti-KNPP movement says.

In an open letter Tuesday to Indian citizens seeking their support for the struggle, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) co-ordinator S.P. Udayakumar said: "This is a classic David-Goliath fight between the ordinary citizens of India and the powerful Indian government supported by rich Indian capitalists, MNCs, imperial powers and the global nuclear mafia."

Udayakumar (addressing the media) remains defiant even in the face of increasing pressure tactics from the pro-nuclear establishment

PMANE has been spearheading the anti-KNPP protest since last year, bringing to a standstill the commissioning of the first reactor last December at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli around 650 km from here.

India's nuclear power plant operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), is building two 1,000 MW atomic power reactors with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam.

However, villagers in Kudankulam, Idinthakarai and nearby areas, fearing for their safety in case of any accident, are dead set against the project.

Udayakumar in his letter said the MNCs and others promise foreign direct investment (FDI), nuclear power, development, atom bombs, security and superpower status.

"We demand risk-free electricity, disease-free life, unpolluted natural resources, sustainable development and harmless future," he said.

Tracing the history of the protests against the nuclear power project since last August, Udayakumar said the protest has been going on for the past 197 days.

"There is no foreign country or agency or money involved in this classic people's struggle to defend our right to life and livelihood. Our fishermen, farmers, workers and women make small voluntary donations in cash and kind to sustain our simple Gandhian struggle," Udayakumar said in his letter.

According to him, the government instead of understanding "the people's genuine feelings and fulfilling our demands", has foisted serious cases of 'sedition' and 'waging war on the Indian state' on the leaders of PMANE.

He said there are around 180-200 cases on the leaders of the anti-KNPP movement.

Udayakumar urged people to write to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the dangerous nuclear power project.

Udayakumar pitted himself against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sending him a legal notice Tuesday following his comments on foreign NGOs funding the anti-Kudankalam stir.

In a recent interview to American magazine `Science', the prime minister said that the protests against KNPP coming up in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district were funded by NGOs based in the US and Scandinavian countries.

Citing these comments, Udayakumar's lawyer M.Radhakrishnan, in the notice, said: "There is no basis whatsoever for this statement made against my client who is the coordinator of the protest."

Claiming the "false statement" was made to harm Udayakumar's reputation, the notice said that "your imputation that the said protest is funded by the United States and the Scandinavian countries is an utter falsehood. This imputation of yours may fall within the realm of defamation."

According to the notice, Udayakumar is deeply hurt by the prime minister's statement that "the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because the NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, don't appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply".

The notice said that the statement appears to have been made "with a view to informing the public" that the anti-Kudankulam protests are with the assistance of the foreign funds. It asserted: "There is no basis whatsoever for this statement made against my client who is the coordinator of the protest."

"My client hopes that you, as the Prime Minister of India, will immediately make appropriate amends to the statements made against my client, and will not drive him to have recourse to law," said the notice. - IANS

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