War of Nuclear: Citizens Vs Government?
India’s democracy promises government of the people, for the people, by the people. Whereas, the two, government and people, appear to be on war against each other at Kudankulam. People in general, don’t want nuclear plant. Government’s not ready to give up. With no space for debate, what kind of democracy is it?
A group of agitators led by People's Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) coordinator S P Udayakumar are on an indefinite fast at Idinthakarai. Hundreds of villagers stand in his support in Tamil Nadu and more in other parts of India.
However, the government continues with the completion work of Nuclear Power plant. More than 300 workers have been deployed. These are the professionals brought in from a different plant to complete the task on war footing.
Be it the government or the protesters, none seem to be in any mood to back off.
The indefinite fast by anti-nuclear activists demanding scrapping of Kudankulam atomic power project has entered sixth day today. Noted activist Medha Patekar along with many activists opposing the project staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Straight from ground zero, SP Udaykumar informs, “Situation here is grim. There are some 10,000 people from coastal and interior villages. Most of them are women including pregnant women and nursing women. I myself saw many nursing women feeding their babied sweetened water as there was no milk coming to the village. More people are coming by boats and on foot as the access roads are all blocked by police. There is no bus service to this place. There is no sanitary complex and women bear the brunt of it. No public health official has ever come to help the people.”
Officials say the work at KNPP for commissioning the first 1,000 MW Reactor was progressing at brisk pace and nearly 300 scientists are working on regular shifts.
Leaders of various parties and outfits, including MDMK leader Vaiko, were on Friday arrested here when they attempted to proceed to Idinthakarai, the epicentre of protests against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, to express their solidarity with the locals demanding the scrapping of the Indo-Russian project.
Leaders and volunteers of MDMK, PMK, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Nam Tamizhar Iyakkam and Popular Front of India and Anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant People's Movement co-ordinator 'Kolathur' Mani were arrested at Palayamkottai, police said.
It is pertinent to mention here, the government has imposed ban orders in the entire Radhapuram taluk under which Kudunakulam and Idinthakarai falls. Staging of any protest or demonstration is a crime there, as of now.
Reports are that even the media is not being allowed to freely report the situation as it is. In a democratic country, government’s resorting to such gag orders and curbing protests. People’s movement activist Gabriella declares it as “The murder of democracy.”
Two Sides of the Coin
Government says India's a country with high economic growth, potential and scope. That's creating an unprecedented demand for power. If the country hopes to grow at a rate of 8 percent over the next 25 years, which will lift its entire population to middle class status, then India must triple its energy supply. Nuclear power alone can meet these goals, and end India’s over-dependence on oil from the volatile Gulf region.
Indian government & Russians say that American-funded NGOs are behind the protests at Kudankulam.
Government's allegation are said to be backed by evidences ferreted out by Indian intelligence. PM stated that the protests were orchestrated by NGOs and churches, which were paying the protestors. These outfits were in turn being funded by foreign sources.
India went to the extent of cancelling the licenses of three NGOs; 77 more NGOs are on the watch list, and the Home Ministry confirmed most were from the US and the European Union. In 2010, the US-based NGOs accounted for one-third of foreign funds worth Rs 90,000 million given to Indian NGOs.
But then government is government. When it wants to do something it'll give millions of reasons and logics. In the first glimpse, the fact and figures from government may impress but then the other side’s argument has to be taken in account.
Activists call it a dangerous technology. In case of any calamity, the situation will go out of control. Nuclear radiation leakage is uncontrollable and no one can guarantee safety. Japan has seen and faced it all last year only and world is shunning nuclear power as an option at all. Japanese themselves have ‘striked it out’ of the list of options and one can't doubt their technological supremacy.
Plus, activists say that this is a democratic country, let people decide what and how they want things to be. It's like killing democracy. Locales are going to suffer the most and benefited the least. If people don't want it, why is government forcing it down their throat?
They too have valid points.
Similar protests were seen with the issue of GM seeds issue. Then also the government was accused of siding the big corporate houses and putting the people’s safety at stake. Finally the government had to push the orders allowing GM seeds to moratorium. But it seems the government had learnt its lesson well from that issue.
Not that they started listening and deciding per people’s wish. They started curbing the protests.
Why can’t a people’s government take any criticism from the people who chose it to be? What happens with the common man’s leaders when they reach the chair? Why do they become so oblivious to the voice of those who made them to be?
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