12 October, 2013
The team from Koodankulam -Melrit and Nisha with their slogans in Kochi
This trip and interaction with people’s groups involved in resistance and struggle along with those spreading new thoughts on healthy and slow food and ways to treat the body softly reinforced our resolve to continue the fight for a Nuclear free world. We, the women of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy based in Idinthakarai village near the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu travelled all the way to Kochi in Kerala to address a large gathering of people on the path of healing their bodies through natural means without drugs and medicines. We also interacted with Michael Nagler of the Metta Centre of Non-violence which promotes the thought about peaceful resistance based in California. They were especially keen to meet the people involved in the peaceful protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant for so many years. We felt honored to see the team from California who knew so much about us.
This trip was special for us as we were able to be with 2 unique, powerful and crucial struggles in Kerala against unjust development similar to ours with reference to the participation of the community especially women and children. The first visit was to inaugurate the 1000th day of struggle against the Waste Treatment Factory of Vilappilsala near Thiruvananthapuram where the people were able to shut down the toxic factory that the Corporation set up to treat the city waste. The untold distress of the community and the impact on soil, air and water has been in the news for a decade. In November 2012, some of us had come to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the Women’s meet FROM Koodankulam To Vilappilsala where 300 women from various women’s groups listened to the Women’s voices from both places. Xavieramma who was jailed for almost three months last year after the Police attack on our village inaugurated the Vilappilsala meet. The resolve of the people of this village and their co-operation with the support of the local Panchayat is what made it a success story.
The second area where we went was to Katikudam where too the notorious Nita Gelatin Company has been polluting the air, water and land of the village Katikudam in Thrissur along with the river Chalakudy and many villages downstream. The horrible stories of the stench which creates discomfort in children along with incidence of bronchial problems and cancers ever since the factory started discharging untreated effluents into the environment was scary to see for oneself. The recent attack by Police and the Company on the peaceful protestors including damage to property reminded us of the carnage last year on us. The pollution of drinking water and the river along with irreversible damage to the soil and air with chemicals whose levels were much more than permissible was shocking. The support that Government and agencies like Pollution Control Board were giving the Company functioning in the area without the permission of the Local Panchayat was an eye opener for us.
We were surprised at the way the 4 groups we met- the Metta Centre and Michael Nagler from as far away as California, the people healed by the Nature Life Movement in Kerala, the People’s Movement against toxins of Waste Treatment in Vilappilsala and the impact of pollution by Nitta Gelatin Factory in Katikudam were linked to us through the message and means of non-violence and peace while addressing issues that have violent and cruel impacts on human lives, water, air and soil that sustain life and livelihoods. We were also reassured that there is so much of hope and determination in spite of many setbacks and failures that bound us together. The people suffering from many ailments spoke of the non-violent way in which the body can come back to life without toxins. The people especially women of Vilappilsala shared the way in which they would join the struggle front each evening giving a share of their daily income. The people of Katikudam boiled tapioca for us grown in their still fertile land while remembering the lush and rich crops they used to have in the riverbed.
We would like to share with you the disturbing news that many attempts are being made by unseen forces to break our strength and unity. Each day many bombs made locally are implanted in our villages to fuel and fire our age old community clashes, all of which had disappeared with the Anti-Nuclear Movement. The cases against us have not been removed in spite of the Supreme Court directive.We are in the midst of uncertainity as the lies about operation and production are being spread all over. Yet we are standing strong.
This trip has given us new energy and strength.
We carry back with us the message of Gandhiji written on the brochure of the Metta Centre
“The undreamt of is daily being seen. The impossible is ever becoming possible”
Anitha.S in conversation with Melrit, Xavieramma, Nisha, Malar from Idinthakarai at Kochi on 5th October.