Kudankulam plant commissioning continues amid escalating protest

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) Authorities, while speeding up pre-commissioning activities at the site, are equally keen to have a quick return to normalcy in their backyard where thousands of people continue with their hunger strike against the plant at Idinthakarai village amid heavy Police cordoning off the entire area.

“We are pained that people should continue to agitate against the plant when our nuclear scientists and engineers are taking every precaution for its safe operation and also keen on the overall development of the region,” a KNPP official said on Thursday, hinting at the grim mood in and around Kudankulam. Technical personnel from other NPCIL plants are also being rushed to the KNPP project site to help expedite the Unit-I start-up.

With the exceptionally heavy Police presence in the area drawing more flak from various political leaders opposed to nuclear power including MDMK leader Vaiko, the Roman Catholic Church also pitched in on Thursday to condemn the “needless deployment” of Police in large numbers.

“A peaceful agitation is going on (at Idinthakarai coastal hamlet where the anti-KNPP Struggle Committee’s convenor S P Udayakumar is leading the fasters), but to counter it with intimidation tactics and deployment of heavy Police and paramilitary forces, besides imposing Section 144 prohibitory orders is uncalled for,” said Fr Yvon Ambrosia, Bishop of Tuticorin Catholic Diocese who have been extending moral support to the people’s opposition to the nuclear plant in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The Bishop on Thursday also came down on the efforts to thwart the movement of essential articles to Idinthakarai as “violation of human rights”. But the Tirunelveli District Collector, Mr Selvaraj, categorically denied that essential supplies were being cut off to the coastal hamlet where the protest is on even three days after the Tamil Nadu Government decided to allow resumption of pre-commissioning works at the KNPP complex. “There is no blockade of essential articles being ferried to Kudankulam area, particularly Idinthakarai,” asserted the District Collector, denying complaints to that effect.

Lorries and other vehicles carrying essential articles for the general public are moving as usual, he said, adding, only some precautionary measures had been taken by Police in the interests of ensuring law and order, he added.

MDMK leader Vaiko on Thursday, condemning the unprecedented Police encirclement of the Kudankulam area, called upon all like-minded people opposing nuclear power to participate in a huge rally planned on Friday in the district headquarters of Tirunelveli.

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