Here is an open letter prepared for Koodamkulam Antinuclear Agitation Support Group, Kerala.Make your comments and suggestions.
Open letter to Mr. Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI (M), requesting him to include the nuclear issue on the agenda for discussion in the Party congress to be held at Kozhikode during April, 2012.
Greetings! We are writing this letter on the eve of the 20th party congress of the CPI(M) at Kozhikode, in which certain ideological questions along with political questions are sure to come up for serious discussion. We wish that the nuclear issue should be included among these and therefore request you to take the initiative.
Your party had withdrawn support to the UPA government in protest against the Indo-US nuclear pact. This came as a surprise move to many political observers, as the subject has not been an important one in the usual political routine of Indian politics or in the agenda of our major political parties. Anti nuclear activists who are aware of the destructive and hazardous potentialities of nuclear power and its disastrous consequences for the living world and our environment for thousands of years to come, had the happy feeling that the Indian left have at last reckoned the seriousness and long term political significance of the nuclear issue. Hopes were aroused in their minds about the Indian left, slowly waking up to a rational, sane and healthy approach to the nuclear question. Subsequently, the support given by people like Vivek Monteiro and the Maharashtra state party functionaries to the antinuclear struggle at Jaitapur reinforced the feeling.
Nuclear technology evolved with the mission to make bombs. The US continued to promote its nuclear agenda under the pretext of `Atom for Peace’, and electricity from nuclear fission through ‘civil’ nuclear facilities, during the crisis of confidence in anything that was nuclear, in the post-Hiroshima world. From the very beginning, it was recognized for what it really was and was criticized by knowledgeable circles all over the world .They saw through US political and economic interests, lurking behind the popularization of nuclear electricity. Anti nuclear scientists and peace activists made it clear that the `peaceful use of atom ‘is a myth and that a nuclear reactor even in its routine functioning releases several radioactive poisons into the atmosphere and aquatic environment. Since a long time ago, it has been established scientifically that all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle-Such as Uranium mining, ore transportation, enrichment, fabrication of fuel rods, operation of the reactors, reprocessing of spent fuel rods, and prolonged storage of high level radioactive waste-have disastrous consequences for human beings and the biosphere. Scientists are also aware of the fresh water scarcity triggered by the use of large quantities of water in nuclear reactors and the subsequent water pollution.
In the developed world which has been using nuclear power, antinuclear movements have been strong and active for the past three decades. These movements have promoted awareness about feasible alternatives to nuclear power such as wind, solar energy, and energy from renewable sources. They helped in devising environment-friendly consumption patterns and saving electricity by increasing the efficiency of end use devices. These methods of using available electricity efficiently coupled with new generation of electricity from renewable sources can definitely satisfy our just demands and we can altogether do away with nuclear power. This is why many nations are decommissioning their nuclear plants; not only to preempt accidents. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima have revealed to the world the horrible dimensions of a nuclear accident-Radiation cutting across continents and its deadly and long lasting effects on human health and environment. The nuclear option for producing electricity is now being questioned and subjected to serious rethinking, not only in developed countries but all over the world.
In post independent India, it was thought that harnessing nuclear technology was inevitable to build a strong nation. Thus, great emphasis was laid on nuclear research, even at the expense of neglecting totally research for possible safer alternatives in the energy sector, which would have given us a lead along a self reliant path as sources such as wind and sunlight are abundant in our country. Though the nuclear path has helped India to gain the status of a `nuclear power state’, our Atomic Energy Department has a dismal track record of a wide gap between promise and achievement, and a history of several reactor accidents euphemistically called `incidents’. In spite of more than 42 years of experience in the production of nuclear electricity, and the pampered status the atomic energy received in our budgets, the share of nuclear electricity in the total generate d power is 2.54%(Installed capacity is 4780 Megawatts). Tamilnad alone has capacity for more power than this from wind only!
The Indo-US nuclear pact has opened up possibilities for adding generation capacity on a grand scale. India has declared its intention to Install a capacity of 64,000 MW by the year 2032, importing nuclear reactors from Russia, US and France. While most of the countries have started to phase out or decommission their nuclear power plants in the light of the Fukushima catastrophe, India is going to pursue its nuclear adventure on a gigantic scale..Germany, Italy, France etc are seriously reviewing their nuclear facilities and opting for renewable sources. Japan has already shut down 53 out of its 54 reactors; only one remains now. India is under compulsion from global corporate reactor traders to accept this outdated and unacceptably dangerous technology. Global nuclear players are plunging India into a debt trap, as a sequel to the Indo-US pact. Even a capitalist mouthpiece such as ~The Economist’ (see issue dated 8th March 2012) has now openly admitted nuclear power as”the Dream that Failed “on economic grounds apart from dangers and adverse effects inherent in nuclear technology.
The nuclear option is too expensive, unsafe and hazardous for us, irrespective the fact whether we use indigenous or foreign technology. It will affect people’s safety, cause genetic damage and create insurmountable problems environmentally, politically, economically and socially for the future. Decommissioning and waste disposal still remain formidable problems for which nuclear science has not found any solution so far.
There is no denying that electricity is needed for development, capitalist or socialist; but, capitalist production in its lust for profit is dashing forward with objectives which the environment can sustain no more. This can precipitate global disasters such as global warming and climate change and pollution of land, water and air beyond repair. Development is possible only within the confines of environmental constraints. This problem of `Environment vs. development’ as we usually put it, will have to be addressed sooner or later. Red and green will have to come closer to put their heads together to sort out practical solutions for the ecological crisis, caused by capitalist economic development. Real electricity demands for the needs of equitable development can be met by augmenting renewable and productive technologies; by increasing the efficiency of end use devices ; by reducing transmission &distribution losses; and by promoting decentralized power production based on wind, sunlight ,mini hydel ,biomass etc .Moreover, these technologies provide much more employment opportunities than capital-intensive nuclear technology does.
Those, including socialists, who seek alternatives to the profit-oriented, consumption- centred capitalist organization of production, have to take up the challenge of substituting it with human-centred, and less oppressive methods. A `socialist’ technology should take the place of capitalist technology and liberate humans from the alienating labour under an exploitative system. Nuclear technology is the most typical example of a capital- intensive and antihuman technology, the long term effects of which may even result in exterminating human race from the face of the earth.
Thus, opposing nuclear power becomes imperative, from a progressive political point of view. It assumes great significance as it is an issue which should enable us to evolve ideological perspectives on socialist development as opposed to capitalist development.
Indian leftists, however, cannot evade the responsibility of engaging themselves with the question of the desirability of nuclear power in the post-Fukushima world scenario. Even capitalists, the sole beneficiaries of nuclearisation, are on a course of second thought and almost a realization of their folly. Future generations will not forgive us, if we rely on this technology with irrevocable consequences that would last for thousands of years. If power is the problem, we in India have innumerable options which have been proved viable-Cheaper, safer and better than the nuclear option. We have enormous potential to produce power from renewable sources according to power ministry’s own documents. We should shift our emphasis to these options and phase out nuclear power altogether as it is a time bomb ticking at our doorstep.
We hope that the party congress at Kozhikode will discuss these issues and emerge with a policy which lends unconditional support to anti nuclear struggles going on in different parts of our country. Protests have been initiated against proposed nuclear plants by affected populations in various states- Jaitapur in Maharashtra; Fatehabad in Haryana; Mithi Virdi in Gujarat, Kovvada in Andhrapradesh; Haripur in westBengal; Chutka in Madhyapradesh, and Pattisonapur in Orissa. The struggle in Kudankulam , Tamilnad has almost acquired historical dimensions by the strong assertion of the will of the people against all the repression and intimidation by the state machinery. The message is loud and clear: If we cannot put a stop to this nuclear madness, basic human rights will be suppressed; progress will be a mirage; democracy will be a myth.
The repeated assurances of safety and blunt denial of the consequences by the Japanese government cannot mitigate people’s misery caused by Fukushima disaster. More than 3,30,000 people still live in temporary accommodation, according to latest BBC reports. Trivandrum, our state capital is in the shadow of immediate danger if there is an accident; it falls within the area of evacuation within 48 hours. That is why the people of Kerala are deeply involved in the struggle in Kudankulam. It is heartening to note that the politbureau of CPI (M) has condemned atrocities and police repression of the peaceful protesters. What we request you, is to review altogether your position on nuclear power per se and to support people’s struggle everywhere against nuclearisation.
N.Subrahmanian-mobile phone-9847439290; K.Ramachandran- mobile phone 9446168230; K.Sahadevan- mobile phone 8547698740; Sajeer Abdurahiman- mobile phone 9447218282
(Signed on behalf of the Kudankulam Antinuclear Agitation Support Group, Kerala)