A sea-based agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project passed off peacefully on Monday, with around 700 boats, including 150 mechanised vessels, carrying more than 3,000 fishermen participating in the protest.
With black flags fluttering on their boats, protesters raised slogans against the ready-to-be-commissioned nuclear complex and the Central and State governments.
“We can never live in peace with this nuclear power project sitting on our doorsteps, threatening to wipe out our livelihood and waiting to pollute the entire South Tamil Nadu beyond redemption,” they shouted.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for the protest venue with his associates M. Pushparayan and Rev. Fr. M.P. Jesuraj in a boat, Anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Struggle Committee convener S.P. Udayakumar said none of the boats participating in the struggle would go near the dyke area of KKNPP as a clear demarcation for about 500 metres from the ‘prohibited zone’ of the nuclear complex had been made with buoys in the sea. “We will conduct the protest in a peaceful manner and we have even forwarded our plea to the police seeking permission for conducting today’s agitation,” Dr. Udayakumar said. All coastal hamlets in the district sent a good number of fibreglass boats to participate in the agitation.
The call for the agitation at sea evoked good response in Kanyakumari district. After assembling at Chinna Muttom Fishing Harbour near Kanyakumari, fishermen from the neighbouring district came in 150 mechanised boats and 200 fibreglass boats to the protest venue at 10.30 a.m. Protesters, including a few women, were at the wheelhouse of mechanised boats raising slogans against the KKNPP through the public address system till 4 p.m. even as security personnel were keeping a watch .
Interestingly, no mechanised boat from Tuticorin Fishing Harbour participated in the protest though fishermen had announced that they would take part. “A warning from the Department of Fisheries restrained the mechanised boat fishermen from participating in the agitation,” said a boat owner.
The State government’s Coastal Security Group was positioned in three boats near the protest venue. A number of fibreglass boats of protesters with white flags patrolled the area to prevent boats from getting into the ‘prohibited zone’. When two mechanised boats came close to crossing the buoys, protesters asked them to leave the spot.
The struggle committee will meet again on October 11 to finalise the next course of action.