Master strategist Achuthanandan saves his position once again Sunday, Oct 14 2012 

Achuthanandan proves himself to be a master of tactics; saves his position once again

V. S. Achuthanandan

CPI (M) leader V. S. Achuthanandan

Though a strategic move, Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan has saved his position as Leader of the Opposition once again. However, for a second time, the party has censured him.

The State unit had been seeking disciplinary action against the Opposition Leader for openly supporting the agitation against Kudankulam nuclear plant. This would even have led to his eventual removal from the position of the Leader of the Opposition.

In a pre-emptive move, Mr. Achuthanandan asked the Central leadership of the party to change party line on Kudankulam. Though the politburo rejected his demand noting that the party line was adopted at the Party Congress, the demand for action against the Opposition Leader got dented though the ensuring discussion in the polit bureau and the Central Committee. There was some support among leaders from other States to Mr. Achuthanandan’s demand that the party should support the agitation against Kudunkulam plant. Moreover, the dichotomy between the party’s stand on Kudankulam and the Jaitapur plant came to the fore though the Central Committee resolution offered some explanation for that.  The Committee also called for an independent safety review of Kudankulam nuclear plant and condemned repression of people agitating against its commissioning. “Necessary safety measures must be put in place before the reactors are commissioned.”  It said.

However, Mr. Achuthanandan proved that he can still take on the State leadership of the party. He had gone to express his support for those agitating against the plant in Tamil Nadu, defying the official leadership of the party in Kerala and general secretary Prakash Karat. Mr. Achuthanandan, who is credited with participation in the Punnapra Vayalar uprising, had just returned when stopped by Tamil Nadu police at the border. He knew that if he had gone into Tamil Nadu and got arrested, he would find none of his party leaders in Kanyakumari district would be there in his support.

The following is the full text of the Central Committee resolution:

Resolution on Comrade V. S. Achuthanandan’s Stand on Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

The Central Committee reiterates the approach of the Party on the use of nuclear power for civilian purposes. The Political Resolution adopted by the 20th Congress of the Party has opposed the setting up of nuclear parks with imported nuclear reactors which are a consequence of the Indo-US nuclear deal. These are not viable on technical and economic grounds and also from the point of view of safety.

In the case of the Kudankulam reactors, the resolution has made an exception as the agreements for these reactors were signed two decades before the Indo-US nuclear deal, at a time when the US and other western countries had imposed sanctions on India. Since then, two reactors from Russia have already been constructed at considerable cost and they are at the final stage before commissioning. However, the resolution has stressed that given the local people’s apprehensions about their safety and livelihood after the Fukushima accident in Japan, these concerns should be met. There should be an independent safety audit and necessary safety measures must be put in place before the reactors are commissioned.

Such an independent safety review has not been conducted. In the meantime, the people protesting at Kudankulam have been subjected to police repression and a large number of cases have been foisted against them. The Party has condemned the repression and demanded that the cases of sedition and other charges be withdrawn.

Com. V.S. Achuthanandan has taken a position contrary to this stand. He has also criticized the Party’s position on Kudankulam as explained by the General Secretary. The Central Committee rejects his views. It censures him for his refusal to abide by the stand which was worked out at the Party Congress. The Central Committee directs Com. V.S. Achuthanandan to adopt the stand taken by the Party.

Bribing Idinthikarai– Dr. Kalam’s action plan for Kudankulam nuclear project Thursday, Nov 10 2011 

Koodankulam town

The Koodamkulam town with sizable population is within 1 km from outer walls of the nuclear complex

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s 10-point plan for development of Kudankulam and neighbouring areas is nothing short of an attempt to bribe the people who are on fast against the Kudankulam nuclear power project at Idinthikarai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

The proposal raises several questions.  Are developmental projects a substitute for safety?  What Mr. Kalam says is that the people of the Kanyakumari and neighbouring districts should accept local development so that the rich and the urbanites elsewhere can have the power from Kudankulam. The sacrifice that is being demanded is something that could affect generations of their offspring.

No nuclear plant has a history of not causing radiation exposure to at least some people in and around the plant. And we know that no human made structure and machinery including Dr. Kalam’s rockets carrying deadly missiles is immune to malfunctions, failures or accidents whatever be the technology employed.  Dr. Kalam knows that well. That is why he is talking about courage like army commanders who always know that a certain percentage of his soldiers sent to the battlefield would never return.  Better technology would only reduce chances of an accident and would not eliminate it. So, the question boils down to what is the acceptable level of risk.

Thousands would die and large areas of Kanyakumari and neighbouring districts would be devastated if a meltdown occurs at the nuclear plant. Thousands of acres of fertile land would remain uninhabitable for many years. There are still no accurate figures of long term casualties from the Chernobyl disaster. But we know that it would run into lakhs. That is too much of risk for just 2000 MW of power.

Related post:

Nuclear liability bill will get you a compensation of Rs. 1000

Also see: 

New Book Concludes – Chernobyl death toll: 985,000, mostly from cancer

Kundankulam anti-nuclear movement

Nuclear liability bill will get you a compensation of Rs. 1000 Monday, Jun 21 2010 

Koodankulam town

The Kudankulam town, with a sizable population and economic activity, is within one km from outer walls of the nuclear complex in Kanyakumari district

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Claims Bill will put you in a worse situation than the victims of Bhopal in case of a nuclear accident. The consequence of a nuclear accident would be much worse and long-lasting than the Bhopal tragedy. We are not going into the long-term effects of radiation here and the deaths that it can cause, but just attempting to calculate the compensation that the victims would get.

Let us take the example of the Kudankulam (Koodankulam) nuclear power plant, coming up at Kudankulam in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. Of course, it is in the public sector and we are taking it only as a reference. It uses Russian reactors imported under Indo-Russian agreement. Its safety features are claimed to be better than that of the ill-fated reactor at Chernobyl.

The accident at Chernobyl led to the declaration of an area, 30 km in radius (area of 2827 sq. km) as no entry zone owing to radiation. So, in the event of an accident of similar dimensions, much of the Kanyakumari district (1672 sq. km) would have to be abandoned. (Part of the area falling within 30 km radius is sea.). However, in the event of a major catastrophe, the area affected could extend up to  70000 sq. km. (about 150 km in radius)

This will mean that besides Kanyakumari district, much of the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala would be affected. These districts have a population totaling 80 lakhs. Let us assume that about 50 lakh people are affected. Then, the compensation payable by the company concerned under the Act will be just Rs. 1000 per head, on an average, since the maximum liability of the company is fixed as Rs. 500 crores. This is what you will get after abandoning your homes and land.

The compensation will vary depending on the population affected and the severity of the accident.  However, it can be seen that the population at risk would be similar for most parts of India in the case of worst possible nuclear accident. The population density is high around Koodankulam. However, much of the area where radiation fall-out could occur is covered by sea. In areas where population density is lower (off the coast), this advantage will not be there.  So, most Indians under the law would be eligible for a compensation of a few thousands rupees.  Under Indian conditions, the bribe that you have to pay officials to claim this damage would exceed the amount.  So, Indians cannot have any hope of getting any compensation under the proposed Bill.

Provision for damage under the U. S. law is more than 100 times that provided in the Indian Bill. However, even that is a paltry sum. So, it is time that we think whether we should have the Bill and the nuclear plants.