Apprehending that anti-social elements and anti-nuclear activists could assemble around the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and disturb peace, authorities today extended prohibitory orders from two km to seven km radius to ensure its safety.

The extension of orders comes a day after approval by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to load fuel in the first reactor of the plant, mired in controversy due to opposition from anti-nuclear activists.

“It has come to (our) knowledge that anti-social elements and rioters could assemble in the area and that anti-nuclear activists and those associated with them could cause unrest and disturb public peace, besides indulging in anti-social activities,” a statement from the office of the Collector of Tirunelveli district, where Kudankulam is located, said.

The commissioning of the first of the 2x1000 MWe units of the Indo-Russian project was slated for December last year, but continuing protests by local people on grounds of safety concerns has delayed it.

Meanwhile, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, spearheading the anti-nuclear protest, dubbed the AERB move as “authoritarian and anti-democratic”.

“Ever since the authoritarian and anti-democratic announcement by the AERB that fuel rods could be loaded at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, the Tamil Nadu government has drastically increased the police force in and around Kudankulam,” the Struggle Committee said in a release.

More police vehicles and personnel were “pouring into our area from various districts of Tamil Nadu” it said, adding, the clamping down of prohibitory orders limit the movement and civil liberties of people in and around the area.