The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), based in Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, has shot off an open letter to the Indian media on its collective silence on the imminent commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear plant.
Below is the text of the press release.
Please allow us to bring the following to your kind attention in the larger interests of our country, people and most importantly, our democracy and freedom.
As the Fourth Pillar of our democracy, the media in India plays an important role in the smooth running of our country and the perpetuation of our democratic heritage.
We are sure that you have noticed the postponement of the commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) to July 2013 without giving any reasons or explanations.
It is really so disappointing and upsetting why no print or visual media in our country asks the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or its Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) about this.
There has not been one single editorial in any Indian newspaper or an informed debate on any TV debate on the repeated postponement of the KKNPP commission since 2005.
Don’t the people of India need to know the reasons behind this constant postponement and continued ducking and dodging by the prime minister, central ministers, chief minister, and nuclear officials?
We have been crying from the roof top that there has been massive corruption in the KKNPP and shoddy, substandard components and spares have been used in the project, but no mediahouse in India has shown any interest to probe this issue further.
Most of the northern Indian mediahouses have not even shown any interest in the Koodankulam issue as if we were not part of India.
Although we cannot complain about the media coverage of our various struggles and campaigns here in Tamil Nadu both in the Tamil and the English media, a few irresponsible mediahouses have been portraying a very negative picture of our movement because of their connection with the nuclear industry, or their “higher caste” bias, or for cheap monetary gains.
They go for sensationalism, profiteering, and unprincipled and unprofessional reporting.
We would also like to point out that there have been good reports and analysis about the KKNPP issue but there is hardly any incisive inquiry into the commissions and omissions of the Indian nuclear industry in the larger media. Also many mediahouses in India tend to fall silent when power centers frown at them, or twist their arms.
As a result of the gross failure of the Fourth Pillar in our democracy, criminals wander about as leaders; ‘Merchants of Venice’ dominate the economic affairs; and all-knowing-scientists and engineers adopt an anti-people attitude in their mega-development projects.
Consequently, there is rampant corruption, inefficiency, wastefulness, depression, inflation, regress, and overall moral decay all over the country.
Hence it is high time we undertook a thorough and comprehensive soul-search about the duties and responsibilities of the media in India. The Koodankulam struggle can be a cornerstone for undertaking this analysis.
We would earnestly request you to do a review of your own mediahouse’s policies and practices and see if you feel and write for the “ordinary citizens” of India or for the vested interests of our country and the world….
If the Indian mediahouses fail to do this, all the neo-East India companies from the United States, Russia, France and everywhere else will come to dominate our socioeconomic-political affairs and enslave us all over again.
Looking forward to your careful consideration of our letter and favorable actions, we send you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes,
S. P. Udayakumar (coordinator), M. Pushparayan, F. Jayakumar, M. P. Jesuraj, R. S. Muhilan, Peter Milton, V. Rajalingam, Ms. S. Lidwin
Photograph: courtesy Dia Nuke