Even as a two-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team is camping at the Kundakulam Nuclear Power Project site for a routine annual review of reactors that fall under IAEA monitoring, anti-nuke protesters have announced a 72-hour-long fast in protest against the State Experts' Panel convener S. Iniyan's assertions that the panel members would not meet the protesting villagers.
“The 72-hour long struggle will commence from Monday midnight as Maha Sivaratri falls on this day. Hence, to invoke the Almighty's grace and blessings to further strengthen the ongoing anti-nuke protests and condemn the remarks of Dr. Iniyan, the hunger strike is being observed,” S.P. Udayakumar, convener of the struggle committee, said after a weekly review meeting at Idinthakarai on Monday.
After the end of the meeting with the anti-KKNPP protestors at the Tirunelveli Collectorate on Sunday, Dr. Iniyan had made it clear that the State Experts Panel, entrusted with the task of understanding the apprehensions of the protesting villagers, had clearly comprehended the villagers' fears and worries over the project through their representatives who met them for talks. Hence, the team would not meet the villagers to understand their apprehensions.
“While the State Experts' Panel has refused to meet our people and certified that the KKNPP reactors had several safety features, nuclear experts from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are inspecting the reactors. It clearly shows that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is carrying out all related works for the early commissioning of the plant, ignoring the State Cabinet's resolution. Hence, the KKNPP administration is clandestinely making the preliminary arrangements for the commissioning of the plant. Hence this 72-hour long protest,” said M. Pushparayan, anti-KKNPP struggle committee member.
KKNPP sources said that the IAEA members, as part of their routine visit to the plant, had come to the site after the arrival of nuclear fuel assemblies.
“Apart from inspecting the safety features, the team members will also ensure the safety of the fuel assemblies during their brief stay here.”
Around 500 police personnel were deployed near the road leading to the project site on Monday and commandos have been positioned at the main gate of the KKNPP premises with automatic weapons.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, V. Varadharaju, and Superintendent of Police Vijayendra S. Bidari are camping at Kudankulam.