Tuticurin (AsiaNews) - "The Kudankulam nuclear station (Tamil Nadu) is a
question of life and death for the entire population," Mgr Yvon Ambroise, bishop
of Tuticurin, said. Critical of the government's silence with regards to the Kudankulam
nuclear plant, he warns that the latter might damage the environment and man.
In an interview with AsiaNews,
the prelate said that the Church is in leading the defence of the rights of the
local population irrespective of religion, ethnicity and social status.
An agreement to build the Russian-designed nuclear power plant was
reached in 1988 but construction did not begin until 1997 because of delays in
supplies and grassroots opposition.
On 11 September 2011, 127 people from the village of Idinthakarai began
strike in protest. After 12 days, they stopped when Chief Minister J.
Jayalitha pledged to stop the project, which he did not do.
Here is the interview with Mgr Yvon Ambroise
Your Excellency, what is situation near the Kudankulam
nuclear power station?
About 50,000 people are taking part in a revolving fast at the plant entrance
since 11 August 2011. For the local population, Kudankulam plant has become a
question of survival even though the government is going ahead with its
construction and is endangering the lives of thousands of people and the
Does the Church share the reasons for the
Yes, it does. My priest, religious and all local Church authorities back
the population whose lives are at risk because of the plant. But local residents
are leading the protest. We have joined them because we live and work for them
without distinctions of religion, culture, caste or language.
Following demonstrations, state officials "tormented" Church officials freezing
foreign donations on the basis of the 2010 Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. They
accuse me of fomenting the protest, something which I have always denied.
Why does government insist that the plant is
For many years, the authorities have lied on the issue claiming the
plant is not dangerous to the population. We asked for more information on the real
nature and safety of the plant, but have not received any answer. All this is
ridiculous. The government is not interested in people's lives. They use
repressive methods to silence the poor and will not budge from pursuing
Do other bishops in Tamil Nadu back your
So far, they have issued two pastoral letters against the plant's
construction. The authorities should understand the dangers for the population
and be aware that people's lives and future depend on the presence of this
nuclear power station. They authorities must find alternative energy solutions to
What is your idea of economic development?
Growth and development are necessary, but not at the cost of human
lives. People should be at the centre of economic programmes, not have them
forced upon them.
The nuclear energy that will be generated in Kudankulan will hurt the
poor and the environment. The power station began with the wrong ideas of some
politicians, who view it as the only path for the area's economic development. Perhaps
they do not understand the real meaning of development.
What can be done to improve the lives of the
poor and marginalised in India?
We must first analyse the social contexts in which the poor live and
plan development programmes starting from their needs. This way, development
policies can focus on the marginalised.
When the Church studies the situation in areas with high levels of
poverty, our work and that of those who support us is completely in the service
of the population.
The type of development promoted by the Indian government is that of the
companies that operate in the state out of self-interest without consideration
for people's lives.
Those who work for the people and follow the ideals of the Catholic
Church must be trained and work on the basis of the teachings of the Gospel,
with dedication, optimism and love for the poor.