This is the first time police started cracking down on the protestors who launched their agitation against the atomic power plant more than a year ago.
For the first time since the protests began, a large contingent of police have entered Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here, which has served as the hub of the protest. A resident of the village said around 300 policemen were in the village.
It was from this village that the anti-nuclear plant protestors charted their protest plans after the Tamil Nadu government gave its green signal to the project last year. The government had earlier asked the Central government to allay the fears of the public before carrying out construction work.
India’s atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian equipment at Kudankulam since 2001.
Villagers under the PMANE banner have opposed the project for the past one year, fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan.
With police resorting to cane charges and lobbing tear gas shells, protestors started running and some tried to escape by running towards the sea. A Tamil TV channel aired footage of protestors throwing sand and stones at the police, while they lobbed tear gas shells.
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) that is spearheading the anti-KNPP movement had decided to take its fight against the Rs 17,120-crore project near the plant, away from Idinthakarai village near Kudankulam.
On Sunday, around 8,000 people including women and children from eight villages near Kudankulam assembled at the beach since morning to stage their protest. There is a prohibitory order against the assembly of people near the plant. Around 4,000 policemen have been deployed around theplant site. Police officials were not available for comment, as were the PMANE leaders.
Greenpeace flays crackdown on protestors
Environment watchdog Greenpeace yesterday condemned the Tamil Nadu government for its crackdown and use of force on protestors. “The commissioning of a nuclear power plant should not happen without consensus with the stakeholders. In the case of Kudankulam, local villages are the biggest stakeholders. Since the power plant is in their backyard, their consent is required,” said Greenpeace campaigner Karuna Raina in a statement. “Greenpeace stands in solidarity with the people of Kudankulam and their struggle for justice,” the statement added. Meanwhile, Amnesty International India, a human rights group, also urged the government to exercise restraint.