World News: 500 Women Join Hunger Strike in South India


Since 2004, thousands of protesters have risked violence and arrest as they opposed the building of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in southern India. The plant’s reactors, they say, are built on volatile ground: a tsunami, volcanic and earthquake zone. The protesters have at some points delayed construction of the nuclear reactors, especially after Japan’s Fukushima disaster. In March of this year, 200 people were arrested because they refused to resume work on the building of one of two 1 GW
reactors, a day after the local government restarted work on the project.

When 24 Peace activists from Tamil Nadu, India organized an indefinite hunger strike in solidarity for the people arrested, for those falsely charged and those under threat by living next to nuclear reactors, (“it is quite impossible to evacuate[ more than 1 million] people quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster”), they received global support.

Last week 500 Indian women joined the hunger strike.

They have committed to a “peaceful struggle to the death.”

The Indian government has announced that the first reactor at Kudankulam will go active later this month or in June. The former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India says that comparisons of the Kudankulam plant to the Fukushima plant do not hold water. “The Fukushima plant was built on a beachfront, but the Kudankulam was constructed on a solid terrain and that too keeping all the safety aspects in mind.”

He also objects to the so-called natural threats. “We are not in a tsunami prone area. The plants in Kudankulam have a double containment system which can withstand high pressure.”

Then, referring to the cost of the plant’s construction he states, “if we don’t operate the plant immediately, it will affect the economic stability of our country.”

According to the Indian blog, Nanjil Sampath, of the political party MDMK, participated in the hunger strike and expressed specific concern for the women involved.

“The situation of the women hunger strikers is very grim as many of them are fainting one after the other. A medical team of 3 doctors and 5 nurses came to check the strikers’ health. As the strikers get weaker and weaker, the communities are becoming more and more concerned. But our governments care little…”

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