Anti-nuke group burns K'kulam model

Protesters against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) on Monday, gave ‘Martyrs Day’ observance a novel twist.

Protesters against the Kudankulam plant rally at Chennai on Monday. PTI

They wailed in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait in anguish against the Centre “ignoring” national interests in pursuit of nuclear energy, and then burnt replicas of the two units of the KNPP reactors in Tamil Nadu.

It was a grim spectacle at Vairavai Kinaru, between the coastal hamlets of Idinthakarai and Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, when protestors under the ‘People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)’ banner observed Gandhiji’s death anniversary by taking out a ‘weeping procession’.

Some of the protestors tonsured their heads, while the women-folk in their camp wailed loudly, crying “death to the Kudankulam project”, S P Udayakumar coordinating the anti-KNPP protests on the ground since September last year, told Deccan Herald over the phone.

“We are helpless; the UPA Government is selling our national interests to the Russian and American corporations,” charged Udayakumar, citing various bilateral deals the Centre was striking to put up more nuclear power plants in the country, utterly disregarding people’s safety after Fukushima.

The protestors then walked some 2-km to the southern end of Kudankulam village, where they burnt two replicas of the KNPP plants.  

The anti-KNPP agitators intensifying their stir has come a day before the fourth and possibly, the final round of talks between the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) nominated panel of experts and the state government’s committee, slated to be held in Tirunelveli on Tuesday, as part of a long-drawn exercise to dispel local people’s fears about KNPP.

Udayakumar said they would participate in Tuesday’s meeting, but, “we’ll walk out after submitting a memorandum to the Central experts.” He said the PMANE was yet to get all the documents it had sought, while the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is busy producing short TV commercials at the cost of the nuclear plant, thus indicating the presence of very little common ground between the two sides.

Simultaneously, pressure from various quarters including industry is mounting on Tamil Nadu government and the Central team to resolve the deadlock as the state’s power situation is taking a turn for the worse.

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