Leaders of the movement against nuclear project vow to further intensify their agitation

Talks between the representatives of anti-Koodankulam Nuclear Project protesters and three Ministers held on Thursday to persuade the former to give-up the five-day-old hunger strike at Idinthakarai failed.

Even as officials representing the government urged them to withdraw their agitation for creating an amiable situation to discuss the issue with senior officials in Chennai and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the protesters' representatives turned down their plea and announced later that the agitation would be intensified.

After holding the first round of talks with RC Bishop of Tuticorin Diocese Yvon Ambroise at Bishop's House, Tuticorin, Ministers S.P. Shanmuganathan, S.T. Chellapandian and P. Chendurpandian and MLAs Nainar Nagendran of Tirunelveli and P.G. Rajendran of Alangulam came to the Radhapuram taluk office for the second round of talks along with the Bishop, who led the team of protesters' representatives, including Radhapuram MLA S. Michael Royappan.

District Collector R. Selvaraj, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, V. Varadharaju, and Superintendent of Police Vijayendra S. Bidrai also participated in the discussions.

“Since the government representatives, during the talks, made it clear that either the Assembly or the State Cabinet would never pass a resolution against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project and could not urge the Centre to scrap the project, the stalemate continued. And the Bishop, who did not want to be caught in this controversy, asked the government representatives to announce this decision at the protest venue, which further made the situation sticky,” revealed an official who participated in the talks.

Radhapuram MLA S. Michael Royappan, who joined the protesters observing indefinite fast on Wednesday night and slept on the sand at the protest venue, said the Union Government, considering the “genuine doubts and apprehensions” of people living close to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project site, should take positive measures to allay the fears before going for the commissioning of the reactors.

During the negotiations, the Ministers asked the protesters' representatives to give them a week's time to jointly meet the Chief Minister and discuss the problem with her. They latter replied that 128 persons on indefinite fast would continue their agitation till “an acceptable solution” is arrived at even as other protesters now accompanying them at the protest venue would return to their routine life immediately.

As the Ministers rejected this, the protesters' representatives walked out of the meeting and left for the protest venue at Idinthakarai.