Rani enters her home for the first time in more than a week. She switches on the light, but it doesn’t work. Tsunami Colony, where she lives in the village of Idinthakari, has been deserted for months, and the electricity supply has been patchy.
The people who were living in the development fear that the police will return and ransack houses – as they reportedly have done to several places in the village. The residents prefer to sleep on the sand outside St. Lourdes church here in Idinthakari in Tamil Nadu, alongside people who have spent more than a year protesting the planned opening of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which sits about 2 kilometres away.
There have been nearly 400 days of protests in the village. A plastic board outside the church tallies this number, every day. Villagers claim that their power supply has been irregular with long power cuts ever since they started protesting.
“The day we started protesting, our power began to be cut,” said Vinsula, a woman who lives in the village. “Our electricity is being cut, and then this backs up their claim of ‘power shortage’ which validates the nuclear plant.”
The people of Idinthakari find themselves in a strange opposition to not only the rest of India’s aspiring middle class, but themselves. They want a more prosperous life, one that depends on the kind of stable electricity supply that nuclear power promises. Nevertheless, they fear what a plant disaster and a resulting radiation leak could do to the quality of their lives and livelihoods.