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Protests against Kudankulam NPP resume in India

September 10, 2012, 19:51 UTC+3

One of the protesters was killed in clashes with police

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KANYAKUMARI, India, September 10 (Itar-Tass) — Protests against the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant have resumes in India.

One of the protesters was killed in clashes with police. Law enforcers had to open fire and use tear gas after the protesters started throwing stones at them, trying to force their way to the nuclear power plant construction site.

According to preliminary estimates, there are about 8,000 protesters. More than 5,000 policemen have been brought to the scene.

Fuel can start to be loaded in the reactors of unit No. 1 of the nuclear power plant, which is the main project of Russian-Indian cooperation, within days.

“All permits to load the fuel, including from the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, have been obtained,” Deputy Head of the Kudankulam NPP construction project Alexander Kvasha.

Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister Jayalalitha earlier assured the protesters that she would study their report concerning risks related to the construction of a nuclear power plant in this state.

She did not ask the protesters to stop their action, which has delayed the commissioning of the main Russian-Indian nuclear project indefinitely.

The meeting with the chief minister took place a day after the central government commission presented its report on the nuclear power plant. Its content has not been disclosed, but experts confirmed that the reactors are reliable.

The Kudankulam nuclear power plant being built with Russia's assistance in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu can withstand a strong earthquake or tsunami, members of the government committee for the evaluation of the nuclear power plant's safety said at a meeting with its opponents from the public organisation “People's Movement against Nuclear Energy”, the newspaper Indian Express said.

Based on its finding, the committee will prepare a special report for the Tamil Nadu government, which, if approved, should stop the protests and resolve the local population's concerns about the safety of the plant that were provoked by the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant accident in Japan.

As a result, the first stage of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was not commissioned in late 2011, and the commissioning was postponed till March 2012 or later.

Indian specialists have so far failed to convince the activists to stop protests against the nuclear power plant. Experts say that a 2-3 month delay will not cause serious problems, but a longer delay can.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said earlier that protests at the Kudankulam NPP construction site reflect people's safety and environmental concerns, and stressed that the government takes them seriously. The government has set up an independent group of expects to respond all legitimate and realistic needs and concerns among the local population, he said.

The first mass protest took place in the State of Tamil Nadu on September 11, 29011 to demand the closure of the nuclear power plant. The authorities made an attempt to assure them that the safety of people was the main priority during the construction.

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