Tamil Nadu

Migrant workers’ protest resurfaces on KKNPP premises

Migrant workers protesting near the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project on Saturday   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Tension prevailed at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) site on Saturday as a cross-section of migrant contract workers resumed their protest urging the contractors and the KKNPP administration to take immediate steps to send them back to their hometowns in the wake of COVID–19 pandemic.

As some of the protesting workers pelted stones on the police, an inspector and a constable sustained injuries. The situation was brought under control after additional policemen were rushed to the KKNPP premises.

Over 1,500 contract workers of KKNPP struck work on May 4 and staged a sit-in on the KKNPP premises where they have been kept in temporary sheds, urging their contractors to send them back to their native places immediately.

After stalling the ongoing construction of reactors 3 and 4 and the earthwork for construction of reactors 5 and 6 for a while following the nationwide lockdown, the KKNPP had resumed activities in the last week of April. When the works were stalled due to lockdown, the 5,000-odd construction workers from various States, who are living in the sheds erected on the KKNPP premises, were not allowed to go out of the campus fearing that they might contract the viral infection outside.

In the meanwhile, a larger section of these contract workers, who had been accommodated in the sheds with asbestos or tin roofs, became restive due to space constraints and paucity of water and toilets.

On May 4, the protesters said after proper medical screening of every workers on the KKNPP campus, they should be sent back to their home States. Talks were held with them in the presence of police and revenue officials.

As the protesters were asked during the talks to register their names online if they wanted to return to their hometowns, 3,341 persons, mostly from Jharkhand and Bihar registered. Since no formal announcement from the KKNPP was made about the migrant workers’ journey to their hometowns, the agitation resurfaced in the contract workers’ sheds on Saturday.

Even as they were mobilising to begin the agitation, the Central Reserve Police Force personnel and the policemen from Koodankulam police station went to the spot. Raising slogans against their contractors and the KKNPP administration, the highly agitated migrant workers started pelting stones in which constable Sakthivel, who was recording the protest with his mobile phone, sustained a bleeding injury on the head. Inspector of Police, Koodankulam, Jegatha also sustained an injury.

As the situation was slipping out of control, Sub-Collector, Cheranmahadevi, Pratik Tayal, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, Praveen Kumar Abinapu and Superintendent of Police Om Prakash Meena rushed to the spot to hold talks with the protesters and also Chief Engineer, Jayakarishnan, KKNPP – 3rd and 4th reactors.

Around 200 policemen have been deployed inside the KKNPP premises to prevent untoward incidents. Additional fire tenders have also been stationed on the atomic power station campus.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 10:12:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/migrant-workers-protest-resurfaces-on-kknpp-premises/article31541848.ece

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