“My government will respect people's views on the issue”

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday assured the people living in the vicinity of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project that her government would act in such a manner as to respect their views on the issue.

“I will be one among you on this issue,” she said, addressing a campaign meeting for the local bodies elections here.

Later answering questions from journalists in Chennai, she said the issue could not be resolved by the State government overnight. “It will take time. I do not to wish to make any further comments on this now, because it is a very emotive and controversial issue.”

Her remarks came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought her help in implementing the project — which is at an advanced stage of construction — while cautioning that abandoning it now would impede the State's development.

Asked what would be the State government's next step, Ms. Jayalalithaa said she was yet to receive the Prime Minister's latest letter.

Protests intensified

At the same time, protests against the project have intensified.

Residents of villages around Kudankulam withdrew their 12-day fast at Idinthakarai on September 22, after the State Cabinet passed a resolution urging the Centre to halt work on the project until the fears of people over its safety were allayed. However, they revived their protest few days back and threatened to continue with an indefinite fast until the project was abandoned.

Power shortage

Earlier, Ms. Jayalalithaa had urged Dr. Singh to halt the project until the fears over the plant's safety were addressed.

At the meeting, she made only a brief reference to the project, but elsewhere in her speech she assured the people that the State's power shortage would be eliminated in a year. Once commissioned, the 2000 MW Kudankulam project would augment the State's power availability by 925 MW.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said Tamil Nadu became a haven of peace and prosperity after the people gave a clear mandate against the “family rule” of the DMK.