3 Years Later, All is Still Not Well in Fukushima - The New Indian Express

3 Years Later, All is Still Not Well in Fukushima

Published: 10th March 2014 07:42 AM

Last Updated: 10th March 2014 07:42 AM

March 11 will mark the anniversary of one of the big disasters witnessed by the world. It has been three years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident took place. It had resulted in the meltdown of three of the six reactors in the nuclear power plant and still ‘nothing is well in Fukushima’, said G Sundarrajan from Poovulagin Nanbargal. He was a recent visitor to Japan and Fukushima.

An advanced country like Japan is in a pathetic situation now, and Fukushima has taught the world what should not have happened, said Sundarrajan. The misfortune was evident as he narrated the poignant tale of the refugees who had been displaced from their homes and livelihood.

The entire area around the plant at a radius of 25 km has been evacuated and the places beyond this perimeter have been marked as ‘voluntary evacuation zones’. People who still choose to stay in this zone have to keep up with restrictions. Children cannot play outside for more than an hour and clothes have to be dried inside. Women want to evacuate for fear of their children’s health but the men do not want to abandon their farmlands and livelihoods. “A number of ‘nuclear divorce’ happen due to this reason. This poses a larger social threat that nobody anticipated,” said Sundarrajan.

Over 2.75 lakh people have been evacuated to other parts of Japan and over 1800 people have lost their lives due to the retreat, informed the activist. The government provides the food and a two room dingy apartment to live but the main issue is their livelihood. People are ashamed to live off of the government supplements but they do not have a choice.

Another cause for concern is the rising number of suicides. The government has taken care of the food and shelter but the loans of these people are not written off. With amounting loan and mortgage dues hovering over their heads and the means of livelihood destroyed, the debts have driven many to take their own lives. Cases of thyroid and thyroid cancer are increasing because of exposure to high levels of radiation.

Sundarrajan and other volunteers from Germany, France, Belgium, Korea, measured the radiation levels with the help of dosimeters throughout their Greenpeace sponsored tour. The team found that radiation levels in Fukushima are at least 10 times higher than Tokyo and in certain places it is even 30 to 40 times higher. Sundarrajan said that the trauma was still evident today and the people were constantly living in fear. High levels of radioisotope-contaminated water leak into the Pacific ocean everyday and the levels have even reached 300 metric tonnes. The government is undertaking emergency measures but all in vain.

The government is under pressure from large corporates to restart all the reactors that have been stopped after the disaster occurred, alleged activists in Japan. Humans know how to start a nuclear reactor but they do not know how to stop it is the general mood in the Fukushima prefecture.

Sundarrajan reported that every Friday thousands converge in front of the Japanese Prime Minister’s office protesting against the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The Japanese are determined to stop the government from resuming any of the reactors.

“Seeing the Japanese people’s resilience my resolve in fighting against nuclear plants back home has strengthened”, said Sundarrajan. “I will fight this out more vigorously to ensure that such a fate does not happen to the people of Tamilnadu,” he added. When an economically advanced and well-organised country like Japan is not able to control the ill-effects of a nuclear disaster, how much more will be the woes of people in India if such a catastrophe happens, argued Sundarrajan.

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