A Fact Finding team has condemned the police atrocity at a recent protest by residents of villages around Kalpakkam where protesters were beaten up and arrested. The fact finding team including Prof Marx (PUHR), Prof. Sivakumar (PMANE), Prof. Thirumavalavan, Environmental Activist Srinivas, Advocate Natarajan and Sukumaran (FPR) met with various stakeholders on March 29th and filed a report on the police atrocities on the peaceful protest. The protesters were agitating on the following demands:
1. Provide uninterrupted 24 hour electricity to all the surrounding areas near Kalpakkam as is being provided for employees of Kalpakkam nuclear power generation facility.
2. Provide employment to locals around the area in the Kalpakkam nuclear power generation facility.
3. No more expansion of the planned nuclear facility at Kalpakkam and banning of dumping nuclear waste from other areas at Kalpakkam
4. Allow children from nearby areas to study in the schools constructed within the facility.
5. Construct a hospital with specialized medical care for radiation related illnesses.
According to the fact finding team, the fish workers, farmers and dalits who lost their land to the Kalpakkam nuclear power generation facility were promised 2 acres of land and guaranteed employment in the facility. However, only 3.5 cent of land was given ultimately with no job in sight. The facility employs mostly contract workers with more than 50% being migrants from other states. This allows the facility to provide low wages, and flout basic labour rights. The forced displacement has caused loss of livelihood and the nuclear facility has resulted in higher radiation related diseases according to studies conducted in this area. A research study has also exposed three deaths caused due to bone marrow cancer out of which 2 were workers in the facility. And to add insult to injury, these villages also face up to 18 hours of power cut even when situated within miles of power generation. These long simmering discontent has finally erupted as a protest by villagers last month.
More than 5000 villagers from Sathurangapattinam, Pudupattinam, Kokkilimedu had participated in the protest on 25th and 26th of March. On 25th, the discussion with RDO failed as the government failed to give sufficient guarantees to the protesters on the demands according to the fact finding team. On 26th, around 2000 police were deployed who engaged in indiscriminate beating on the protesters and more than 400 protesters were arrested. Non bailable offences including attempt to murder and damage to public properties were charged on 18 leaders of the protests. Applications for a hunger fast against the release of the 18 arrested have been denied by the police.
Observing the above conditions which led to the protest, the fact finding team has recommended that the case is withdrawn against the 18 protesters and the demands of the villagers are fulfilled. The team has also suggested that a rehabilitation and compensation scheme for medical conditions emerging due to radiation for the villagers and that periodic medical evaluation is conducted for the villagers.
For the complete report in Tamil, download Kalpakkam Protest Fact Finding Report.