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Celebration of struggle starts in Kudankulam this New Year

For millions of people, 2012 was one big struggle for environmental justice. We have reported on many tragedies, successes and ongoing struggles. With an average of ten articles a month, from all inhabited continents, we covered a wide variety of topics. The press release that we publish today in no way represents all these struggles but it is a positive message and a celebration of an active struggle for environmental justice that we support. With that, we hope to end this year with an inspirational note of hope for those who act to make justice happen.

Press Release: 30th December 2012

Thousands of people, brought together by the spirit of resistance, democracy and freedom gathered on the beaches of Southern Tamil Nadu- in the coastal villages of Tirunelveli. Idinthakarai village, which has been the nucleus of the Kudankulam anti-nuclear power plant struggle, welcomed hundreds of people who have come to celebrate New Year with the local communities spearheading the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE).

Groups from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Pondicherry, Kerala and other regions of Tamil Nadu have assembled to salute the valiant struggle of the local people against the Kudankulam nuclear project. The local people represented the coastal villages of Idinthakarai, Kudankulam, Vairavikinaru, Kuthankuzhi, Koottappuli and Perumanal.

The program was inaugurated by the drummers of Janwadi Sanskrutik Andolan, Odisha which got the children and youth of the local villages along with the visiting groups tapping to their beats. Fr. F. Jayakumar, parish priest of the Idinthakarai Lourde Matha Church extended a warm welcome to the visiting people. Dr. S.P. Udayakumar, an active member of the PMANE struggle committee thanked all the people who travelled long distances to come to Idinthakarai, to spend the New Year eve with the struggling people.

“The second phase of our struggle began on the 16th of August 2011. More than 500 days since, we have sustained this struggle against the worst odds, facing extreme repression unleashed by the undemocratic and insensitive Indian state. We wish to remind Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Karunanidhi and other such political leaders that this struggle will continue till our last breath. The last child of Kudankulam area also will resist this destruction of our land, livelihood and natural resources”, said Dr. S.P. Udayakumar.  The inaugural session also witnessed release of a painting, made by Madurai based artists, depicting the mowing down of the Kudankulam plant by the struggling people led by children and women.

Testimonials by different movement groups, fighting different destructive developmental projects in different parts of the country, is planned in the next two days of the celebration gathering. Along with this, songs, dances, theatre performances, painting, sportive events, etc. have been planned to make the two day celebration of the ‘New Year 2013 @ Kudankulam: Celebrating Resistance, Asserting Freedom’, a memorable experience for both visiting and the local people.

People from various walks of life including Dr. Binayak Sen, Adv. Prashant Bhushan, Admiral (Rtd) Ramdas, Achin Vinaik, Adv. Colin Gonsalves, Praful Bidwai, Gabriela Dietrich, Ashim Roy, Lalita Ramdas, Anil Choudhary, Ajitha George, Dr. Meher Engineer, T. Peter, CR Neelakandan, Sr. Celia, Vilayodi Venugopal, Laha Gopalan, and others are scheduled to address the national and local media from Lourde Matha Church premises at Idinthakarai at 3 pm on the 31st December 2012. They will be joined by local movement representatives including Dr. S P Udayakumar, Malar Manickam, Pushparayan and others.

Today, the visiting dignitaries and groups visited the coastal villages and interacted with local villagers. Villagers cited the experiences in the struggle, from the early days in late 1980s to the latest police repression and martyrdom of local people – while in the struggle. The visiting groups were also shown the plant site and its proximity to the villages. It was clear that the plant existed in clear violation of internationally set practices of setting safe nuclear reactors, away from areas of human habitation – along with AERB norms.

Background to the event: All through 2012, Kudankulam – the now famous epicentre of anti-nuclear struggle in Tamil Nadu, India – was in the news for the local people’s valiant fight against the nuclear power plant. The place became renowned for the militancy of the local fishing communities, the clashes they had with police and the kind of state repression the people had to bear, despite being a democratic and peaceful struggle. It was also in the news for the loss of ecology and livelihood that will affect the local people, if the plant was commissioned. The Indian state has rubbished their struggle and with support from the state run atomic department scientists, setting aside the concerns of the local communities as ‘unscientific apprehensions’ and ‘baseless fears’. However, to the dismay of many, the local people in thousands, continue to believe that their ongoing struggle shall succeed and that the nuclear plant will not be commissioned in their neighbourhood, which will destroy their lives, livelihood and the marine ecology they depend upon.