Protest Against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant
After Jaitapur, Idinthakari village in coastal Tamil Nadu is becoming an epicentre of huge protests against nuclear power plants. Here, 127 people from villages in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts began an indefinite hunger strike on September 11 demanding closure of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) proposed here. It ended on the 11th day, after the agitation forced the TN Government to change its posture, and promised to get the project halted.
Between 15000- 25000 people from nearly villages participated in the protest every day since September 11. More than 1 lakh people are estimated to have participated in the protest within 11 days. These included fisher-folk, farmers, manual labourers, thousands of women. Students boycotted schools and colleges, and shops have remained closed. 
Coastal Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari were among the worst hit by the 2004 tsunami. The local people have keenly followed the tragic tsunami in Fukushima this year, which resulted in a nuclear disaster. They are resolutely unconvinced by the promises of the Government and ‘experts’ who assure them that the Indo-Russian Nuclear Plant project will be ‘safe’ from natural disasters such as quakes and tsunamis. “We don’t want to risk any Chernobyls on our soil” is the refrain here.    
The Koodankulam project would have the untested VVER (Vodo-Vodyanoi Energetichesky Reactor; Water-Water Energetic Reactor) 1000 technology imported from Russia. People in the area are well aware that after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Russia has no built a new nuclear plant. India, by buying Russian reactors, would be bailing out the Russian nuclear industry – risking the lives of Indian citizens in the process!
Initially the TN Government and CM too were defending the nuclear project. In fact, the State Government and its police displayed the utmost callousness by arresting protestors. But after 10 days of fasting, as the momentum of protest grew and spread across Tamil Nadu, CM Jayalalitha sought to distance herself from the project and leave the Centre to take the heat of public protest. She wrote a letter to the PM, saying that the Centre should halt the project till fears of the local people are allayed. 
Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy then visited the agitation site, and was greeted with vociferous protests. He continued to maintain that there was ‘needless panic’ and that the Plant would have ‘robust safety measures’ in place. Nut even former AERB Chairperson Gopalakrishnan has said that there is indeed genuine cause for concern and caution in setting up nuclear power plants, especially after Fukushima. As protests escalated, Narayanasamy has said that the PM would take the final call on the fate of the project.  
Eventually the hunger strike was called off on the 11th day, after the TN government promised to pass a resolution at the Cabinet for halting of the project. The movement, however, will continue till the project is scrapped.   

CPI(ML) extends full support to the agitation against the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant, and demands that the project be scrapped. The party also supports the struggles ongoing at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat; Jaitapur in Maharashtra; Fatehabad in Haryana and other people’s movements which are determined to resist nuclear experiments with people’s lives.

Spending More Than Rs 25 A day?

You’re Rich, According To Manmohan Singh!

[In September, the Planning Commission submitted an affidavit, approved by the Prime Minister’s Office, to the Supreme Court, laying down the norms for identifying BPL households. A person, the Planning Commission says, is rich if he or she spends more than Rs 25 a day in rural areas and Rs 32 a day in urban centres. 
The Times of India (22 September) broke down the overall monthly figure (Rs 32) for urban areas and used the consumer price index (CPI) for industrial workers along with the Tendulkar committee report figures to see what these numbers translate to. Based on those calculations, let us see how much the UPA Government believes is enough to spend on essential items so as not to be deemed poor.
 The Planning Commission and the Indian Government are headed by the World Bank’s favourite Indian economists, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Manmohan Singh respectively.
Let us see what, according to these great economists, constitutes poverty (and wealth) in India today.  
According to Messrs. Montek and Manmohan, a person in a city is not rich if he/she spends, per day:  
Rs 5.5 on food grains / Rs 1.02 on pulses / Rs 2.33 on milk / Rs 1.55 on edible oil / Rs 1.95 on vegetables/44 paisa on fruits / 70 paisa on sugar / 78 paisa on salt and spices / Rs 1.51 on other foods 
For rural centres, naturally, the amount would be even less.
What about the sky-rocketing prices of each of these food items, which your Government is unable (or unwilling?) to quell, Manmohanji?! If a family is forced to spend a paisa more than these ‘generous’ amounts on its members, it must not be listed as a BPL household according to the UPA Government.   
Kitchen Fuel
If a family spends more than Rs 3.75 per day on fuel to run the kitchen, it is well-off, and could not be counted in the BPL category, according to the economics of Messrs Montek and Manmohan.
House Rent, Transport
Rs 49.10 a month is adequate for rent and conveyance per person! Forget that even a couple of daily bus tickets in the city of Delhi would cost around Rs 20-Rs 30. Forget that house rent in any city costs steep amounts even for the shabbiest tenement. 
A mere Rs 39.70 per month on medicine/medical care is quite generous, believes the Government.  
Those spending 99 paisa a day or Rs 29.60 a month in cities are ineligible for BPL, according to the Government. Never mind the ever-increasing school fees... 
Clothes etc? 
Spend more than Rs 61.30 a month on clothing, Rs 9.6 on footwear and Rs 28.80 on other personal items, and you’re not poor...   
Manmohan Singh and his august team of ‘planners’ say that the Government just has no money to give rations to anyone who spends more than Rs 25 in villages and Rs 32 in cities. Those who can afford to spend these princely amounts can fend for themselves, they say. In a situation where we have a resource crunch, they say, we have to ‘target’ or ‘prioritise’ who we help. In order to help the ‘poorest’, we have to pretend that the ‘poorer’ are rich! Or at least, that’s what the Government’s logic sounds like.  
Meanwhile, let us remind ourselves of how the richest in India live. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) CEO Mukesh Ambani lives in a 27-floor house ‘Antilia’ in Mumbai. It is said to be one of the most expensive and luxurious homes in the world. The monthly electricity bill of this house, which is home to Mukesh, his wife and their three children, is around Rs 70,69,488. Let us accept, for a minute, that a person spending Rs 25/32 on food/health/education per day is not poor, and needs no subsidy rations. But surely Mr. Mukesh Ambani doesn’t need subsidies or rations either, given that he can afford to live in such luxury?
But Messrs. Montek-Manmohan think otherwise. They waive around Rs 250 crore worth of taxes a day to the likes of Ambani. And that is not counting the ‘extra’ help given by the UPA Government to Ambani in eking out his existence and running his business. In the KG Basin gas contract case, the Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) and Ministers in the UPA Government helped RIL show inflated capital costs and thereby conceal profits and rob the exchequer of the royalty due.    

Indeed, the UPA Government believes in ‘targeted’ and ‘prioritised’ subsidies – the ilk of the Ambanis and Tatas get thousands of crores of gits, hand-outs and subsidies, while the Government’s in-house economists and planners juggle figures to prove that Rs 25 is a magic number dividing the well-off who do not need subsidies, from the poor and needy! .