Accepted paper:

How Postcolonial Law became an Ass: The Struggle over the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in South India


Raminder Kaur (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I consider the oppositional views on law and democracy that have emerged over the development of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in south India along with contested debates about whether concepts of the nation should be prioritised with respect to ‘national security’ and nuclear development, or the environment and notions about deep democracy.

Paper long abstract:

Since 2011 after the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, local resistance to the nuclear plant has increased incrementally under the behest of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy. Protesters have decried the plant as a violation of correct procedures with respect to the environment and project-affected people. Influenced by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign, protesters have undertaken hunger strikes, non-violent marches and rallies, sea-based campaigns, destroyed models of the nuclear power plant, closed shops in protest, periodically boycotted school and their work, and even surrendered their voter registration cards. In response, the state has utilised the full gamut of colonial and postcolonial legislature to underwrite their draconian actions including long-term prohibitory orders, police sieges, imprisonment, the cancellation of ration cards for essential provisions for the poor, and levelling criminal charges including more than 6,500 for sedition and ‘war against the state’, and over 55,000 other allegations in the space of a year. I consider this desperate attempt to contain the protests, wherein the use of legislature clashes with and becomes a travesty of more grounded notions of social justice.

panel G43
New topics in the field of legal pluralism (IUAES Commission on Legal Pluralism)