At a time when the anti-nuclear debate is escalating in India, especially in Tamil Nadu, the government has run out of credible scientific arguments. Instead, they have resorted to unleashing brutal police force. Today, we ask you to read and circulate Mr. V. Pugazhenthi’s letter, a barefoot doctor in Sadras village near the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant.
To: All the Democratically Concerned People of Tamil Nadu, India and the World
Respected Friend, Madem/Sir:
Sub: False Charges filed on me to curtail my professional and democratic duty to warn the people I am serving about the ill effects of the nuclear radiation around the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant
I am a medical doctor practicing in Sadras village near the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, India, since 1989. I was a gold medalist during my undergraduate years at Madurai Medical College, but chose not to pursue higher education because I felt I should work among the poor masses in the villages. I chose Sadras as the place for my practice since I had many friends at Kalpakkam, who happened to work in the Kalpaakam Nuclear Power Plant.
From 1989 to 2000, my professional work was focused principally on serving the Dalit and the Fisher folks. My interests were in Primary Heath Care and I had devised many innovative cost efficient methods to treat the most prevalent diseases among the masses. I had written profusely about these methods in many journals and have published books highlighting these. My work was recognised by the local and national media and they had interviewed me many a times with regard to this. The noted magazine “Outlook” had published an exclusive article about me on 21 June 2004. I was even fondly nicknamed as “One Rupee Doctor” by many magazines that had interview me. I had started a small health awareness movement called Makkal Nala Vazhvu Pani Iyakkam (Forum for People’s Good Life) and had opened a clinic at Vayalur exclusively for this purpose among its Dalit populace. Impressed by my work, former Justice of the Supreme Court Shri.D.K.Basu came unannounced to grace this occasion. (1)
It was during these first 10 years of my professional work I have understood that the chances of the people living around this Nuclear Power Plant to succumb to genetic diseases and various types of cancers was far higher than other places where nuclear power plants are not present. I decided to study this systematically. I got the first opportunity when my colleague Dr.R.Ramesh of Coimbatore asked me whether I could help in conducting a survey on the incidence of Polydactyly ( people with more than 5 fingers/toes in each hand or foot) in this region. This was early 2001 and was related to the public hearing process for the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor scheduled to be held on 27 July 2001. (2) The survey showed a very high incidence and this made me plunge into studying the effects of radiation among the local populace. I have not looked back ever since and have conducted many a health surveys since. I have remained a whistle blower who have ardently asked the Nuclear Power Plant authorities to follow nationally and internationally accepted safety codes. (3) Appreciating my work, I have been asked to become the technical and medical consultant to a group of concerned local citizens on the ill effects of radiation. This group called “ Anuk Kathirveechu Paathukaappukkaana Makkal Iyakkam” (Peoples Movement for Protection Against Nuclear Radiation)” is to conduct a protest on 12 November 2011 against the breech of nationally and internationally laid safety codes by the authorities of the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant. Their contention has valid scientific proofs. People belonging to this movement are working for the past one month to make this protest a successful one.
It is in this background, I received a telephone call at 6 PM on 1 December 2011 from the Puthupattinam police station. The police inspector Mr.Siva Kumar, told me that the Puthupattinam Panchayat Chief had filed a petition against me and whether I could go to the Police Station for an enquiry in this regard. I was busy in my clinic and told him once my works were over I would meet him at the station. I went to the police station at 7.30 PM. I was asked to wait. The police inspector then telephoned the panchayat chief. He arrived at the station by 8..10 PM. The enquiry lasted for about 30 minutes. I left the place by 8.50 PM.
The police inspector narrated the charges filed against me by Mr.Kaliaperumal : Mr.Kaliyaperumal, the Panchayat Chief of Puthupattinam village has filed a petition against me and one Mr.Nehru. He is charging us both that we had threatened to murder him if he does not cooperate with out anti nuclear work.
The alleged threat was sent to him in the form of an anonymous letter, which he said was penned by Mr.Nehru under my direction.
An SMS to his mobile phone from an unknown mobile phone number had also threatened to murder him. This is also alleged to have been sent by someone close to me under my directions.
Many SMS notes keep coming to his mobile phone from unknown numbers abusing him. He believes that all these SMS notes are sent to him under my directions.
I gave the following replies to the police inspector with respect to the above charges:
1) I do not involve myself in any anti nuclear work. I am only discharging my professional service by telling everyone about the findings culled from my two decade long work and critical studies related to health and nuclear radiation in general and Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant in particular. I am not an organiser of any anti nuclear movement but am and will remain a technical and medical consultant of such movements. Recently I have been asked by People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy that spearheads people’s agitation against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, to share my professional experiences as one of its panel of experts. Like this, I have shared my experiences and studies with people all around the country.
I have met the Panchayat Chief Mr.Kaliaperumal on various occasions. I have even congratulated him on the day he had won the local election. I have talked to him cordially always. I have explained to him as I explain to everyone I meet, about the issue of nuclear radiation around. As I work as a medical professional and not as a political organiser, where does the question of me threatening him to join my work? My work is to treat, study and share. Where does his charge fit in?
However, as you are asking me a particular question, I state here that I have not at any moment threatened Mr.Kaliaperumal to join an anti nuclear agitation.
2) I have nothing to do with the anonymous letter that threatens Mr.Kaliaperumal with death. I know Mr.Nehru, but under no circumstance he is working with me. The charge that Mr.Nehru wrote this letter under my influence is a concocted lie.
3) I have nothing to do with any of the SMS notes that are alleged to be received by Mr.Kaliaperumal.
As I finished with my reply, the police inspector said he has not filed the First Information Report. However, he asked me to give in writing that “I would be present at the police station whenever I am summoned by him for further enquiries. If I am not present for such enquiries, then I agree that the charges kept on me is true.” I told him what that would mean to my daily professional schedule. I explained to him how the poor patients who come to see me from miles afar would deeply suffer. However, he insisted that I should give this in writing. At last, as a good samaritan,I gave him in writing that whenever he summons me I would be present at the police station.
Once I gave him this written note, he told me in a very harsh warning voice: “ Doctor! Do you know that I can book you under national Security Act for whatever the works that you are doing? By the way…. Have you ever heard anything about “police encounter”? So, be careful.”
I remain baffled. However, there’s no way my professional and democratic work can be suspended by any force whatever.
I strongly suspect the hand of the authorities of the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant behinnd all this. They are particularly disturbed by the facts I have recently published with respect to the safety codes being practiced by them. They are, I suspect, disturbed by a news that I am about to publish a book that is to question the various safety issues related with the power plant. I think, by intimidating me with such police threats, they believe that they will be able to make the Kalpakkam environment radiologically safe.
I have been open always for discussion with the authorities of the power plant. I have met them many a times and have always shared all the data available with me. However, they have, over the past 10 years have not tried to answer any of my questions in the earnest. Now, I suspect, that they have decided to opt other means to silence my work.
It is in this regard, I request all of you – my democratically minded brethren – to pray and voice for me and my family members.
Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 December 2011
In order to further illustrate the anti-nuclear movement in Kundankulam, please read the explanations for frequently asked questions by Nityanand Jayaram and G. Sundar Rajan published in Kafila.