Activists vow to step up agitation until Kudankulam project is scrapped

The thatched pandal abutting St. Lourdes Church at Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district, just north of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) site, has become much more than a symbolic pilgrim’s centre for the activists, largely drawn from the fishermen's community opposing the plant after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan over three years ago.

As another milestone was crossed in this prolonged and largely non-violent struggle on Sunday when their agitation, under the auspices of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), entered the 1,000th day, the protestors seemed even more resolute, holding candles at day-fall.   

If anything, the PMANE, under the leadership of the political science professor-turned-activist, S.P. Udayakumar, now an Aam Admi Party candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from the neighbouring Kanyakumari, vowed to continue the agitation until the project was scrapped. The first of the two light water nuclear reactors of 1,000 MWe each, built with Russian assistance, had crossed the 900-MWe generation mark recently.

After Idinthakarai became the epicentre of the protests in August 2011, the movement gathered pace with the support from various political parties and organisations, and the police’s hesitation in entering the coastal hamlet to put an end to their acts of sustained defiance.

The police registered 349 cases against the protesters, but arrests for more serious offences were not made for various reasons, though the activists were ready for any eventuality. The protest has since continued for the past 1,000 days.

With the agitation crossing another ‘landmark’ on Sunday, demonstrations were staged at Idinthakarai, in which PMANE leaders, including M.P. Jesuraj, M.Pushparayan and R.S. Muhilan, participated.

 Speakers said the agitation would continue until the project was scrapped since the Central and State governments, and the Supreme Court “are not prepared to listen to the genuine demands of the protesting public.”

Mr. Udayakumar, also coordinator of the anti-KKNPP struggle committee, who arrived at the venue at 6.10 p.m., said the agitation against the project, under which four more light water reactors are planned as part of a nuclear park, would continue until it was scrapped. The PMANE activists were also disappointed that the recent Supreme Court judgment had not been favourable to them. A candlelight procession was taken out at the end of the observance, in which Idinthakarai villagers participated. The KNPP Authorities have been maintaining that the plant has been complying with all safety norms.

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