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.