Hundreds of anti-nuclear activists were arrested here on Monday after they attempted to march towards the Secretariat.

The protesters, including many owing allegiance to different political parties, alleged that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) posed a grave threat to the safety of people and demanded its closure.

Addressing a gathering before commencing the march, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko said nuclear energy was not a solution to overcome the power crisis in the State. “Even if the entire power generated from the KKNPP is given to Tamil Nadu, we will reject it,” he said.

Mr. Vaiko accused the police of preventing thousands of protesters, including women, from reaching Chennai. “This agitation should not be confined to Idinthakarai. We also demand the closure of the Kalpakkam nuclear plant.”

Contending that he was the first to register a protest against the KKNPP in Parliament, Mr. Vaiko said the anti-nuclear agitation had nothing to do with caste or religion.

Speaking on the occasion, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol. Tirumavalavan said anti-nuclear protests in Tamil Nadu were neither against the Centre nor the Congress party.

Tamizhar Desiya Iyakkam leader P. Nedumaran and Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam president Kolathur Mani were among those who spoke. As the protesters tried to march towards the Secretariat, police intercepted them and took them into custody. The agitation took place near the Rajarathinam Stadium.

Roads leading to Montieth Road and Rukmani Lakshmipathi Road in Egmore were blocked on either side by police. Vehicles which reached these areas before the agitation were stranded for several hours, police sources said, and added that about 1,800 agitators who were arrested were released in the evening.

In a related development, over 300 members of Naam Thamizhar Iyakkam led by actor Seeman staged a protest in Pudupet against the KKNPP.

They were arrested and released later.