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Fukushima-Chernobyl commemoration programmes begin in Kolkata

No more Fukushima, Not in Koodankulam, Nor Anywhere Else

Press release and Text of Letter to Prime Minister of India

10 March 2012

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The Fukushima-Chernobyl commemoration programmes begin in Kolkata. The main focus is the anti-nuclear struggle India, particularly the magnificent people’s resistance in Koodankulam.

Scientists, literary workers, activists, and other concerned citizens in Kolkata met the Press today, 10 March 2012. The theme was No More Fukushima, Not in Koodankulam, Nor Anywhere else. This was the beginning of a series of programmes that will continue till 26 April (Chernobyl Day), 2012.

The Press Release is given below:

PRESS RELEASE

10 MARCH 2012

KOLKATA

IN THE SHADOW OF FUKUSHIMA – KOODANKULAM AND THE GOVERNMENTAL OFFENSIVE

Tomorrow is the Fukushima Day. The world will commiserate with the countless residents of Japan, who have suffered from the meltdowns at the reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Scientists, policy makers, activists, and concerned citizens the world over have been pressurizing governments to pull away from the nuclear path. Willy-nilly, the governments in various countries are being compelled to see reason. The situation in India, however, is quite the opposite. Here, the union government has committed itself to a path of nuclear expansion and refuses to pay heed to global experience and sane advice.

The union government’s stance in this regard has been most recently highlighted by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s comments regarding the protest movement against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. These comments, unsupported by even a shred of evidence, have been followed by the Home Ministry’s offensive against the protesters. We have written to the Prime Minister, expressing our grief and alarm at the assault on citizens’ freedom to protest. We have also pointed out the folly of pursuing the nuclear option.

The Indian government is continuing its undemocratic offensive. The Indian Embassy in Japan has denied visa to Maya Kobayashi, a resident of Fukushima in Japan, who had been invited by Greenpeace India to share her experience with the Indian people. We should like to point out that such actions not only violate the principle of international goodwill, but is also a denial of our right to know.

The agitators in Koodankulam are continuing with their peaceful satyagraha. We, who have had the experience of a long-drawn struggle against the proposed Haripur Nuclear Power Plant in West Bengal, empathise with them in their suffering and struggle.

Our anti-nuclear campaign for this season begins today. This campaign has for some time been spearheaded by the Paramaanu Bidyut Birodhi Prachaar Andolan. This platform, in association with other likeminded individuals and forums, will continue with the campaign till 26 April, the Chernobyl Day. Our campaign will include programmes at various schools that we have been undertaking for some time. We shall be undertaking a 12-hour fast on Monday, 12 March 2012, at College Square, in support of the Koodankulam anti-nuclear struggle. Please join us on that occasion and in our subsequent programmes.

Thanking you

Yours sincerely

Sd/-

Prof. Meher Engineer

Sd/-

Bankim Datta

Sd/-

Prof. Sujay Basu

The letter that was earlier faxed to the Prime Minister, reads as follows:

To

The Prime Minister,

Republic of India

08.03.12

Sir,

We, the citizens of India, tended to view you as a politician with a difference, one noted for his erudition and mild manners. However, some of your comments and actions of late, particularly with respect to the opposition to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), have led us to revise our opinion.

You know the rights of the citizens of this country, enshrined in the country’s constitution, which you are duty bound to uphold. The freedom of the citizens to oppose government decisions peacefully is one such right. Your comments, and actions resulting from them, regarding the democratic and peaceful anti-KNPP satyagraha by the local populace, is a denial of this right. You have claimed that the peaceful satyagraha against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is being funded and supported by foreigners, without providing evidence for this claim. On the other hand, the public declarations of the local protesters would indicate that their movement is being supported from their own modest resources. Your home ministry has started investigations, issued notices, and frozen the bank accounts of some of the protesting organizations. A foreign national has been deported on unproved charges. All these constitute assaults and threats against a peaceful citizens’ agitation, and are alarming and reprehensible.

Outside your nuclear establishment, no one who is informed about such things believes that the energy security of our country can be attained through the construction of nuclear power plants. The poor prospect of nuclear power is evident from the global decline in the production of nuclear electricity. Today, nuclear electricity is more expensive than even electricity from solar. Moreover, a nuclear power plant, because of the complexity of operation and the possibility of release of deadly radiation, can be declared safe only by those pundits who have mortgaged their rationality to vested interests. Fukushima has proved this beyond doubt.

We firmly believe that renewable energy, through the correct integration of its various forms, is a far better option for ensuring our country’s energy security than nuclear energy, which is very costly and manifestly dangerous.

We appeal to you to desist from indulging in unfair utterances or actions against popular movements, including anti-nuclear agitations. We continue to hope that sagacity will prevail and you will act to uphold our constitutional rights and the democratic traditions of our country.

Yours sincerely,

1. Prof. Sujay Basu, Former Director, School of Energy Studies, Jadavpur University, 86B Manoharpukur Road, Kolkata – 29. Email: basusujay@gmail.com

2. Prof. Manoj Kumar Pal, Former Director, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics

3. Prof. Meher Engineer, Former Director, Bose Institute, Email: mengineer2003@gmail.com

4. Prof. Tarun Sanyal, Poet and Educationist

5. Prof. Palash Baran Pal, Senior Professor, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics

6. Prof. Tushar Chakraborty, Principal Scientist, IICB, Kolkata.

And a large number of other citizens

[The other signatories included:

Samar Bagchi (educationist)

Bibhas Chakraborty (actor, playwright, and director)

Ganesh Haloi (artist)

Abhee K. Dutt-Mazumder (physicist)

Manas Joardar (educationist)

Jiten Nandi (social and environmental activist)]

The Press Conference was the first of a series of programmes that will continue till 26 April, Chernobyl day.

On Monday, 12 March 2012, we will be sitting on a 12 hour fast and demonstration, followed by a candle light march, in support of the anti-nuclear struggle in Koodankulam. Scientists, poets, playwrights, actors, activists, and other concerned citizens will participate.

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