NEW DELHI, October 8 (Itar-Tass) —— Protests against the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern State of Tamil Nadu have resumed in India.
Protesters besieged the construction site from the sea on Monday, October 8. Several hundred people, including local fishermen, formed a “chain or protest” using their boats and other vessels half a kilometre from the station.
The action might have been prompted by the loading of fuel into the reactor of Unit No. 1 of the power plant on October 3. The reactor will be launched after a series of tests.
The station is expected to start generating electricity in 2013, which may bring a catastrophe for the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy. Its leader Udaikumar has been telling local people and fishermen that the power plant may cause a nuclear catastrophe similar to that at Fukushima-2 in Japan and has won over some of them. He is planning new protests against the Kudankulam NPP project in Tamil Nadu’s capital of Chennai.
Protests create a nervous atmosphere around the station and worry the authorities that had to post 5,000 policemen around the power plant and even send in coast guard boats.
These measures may be deemed necessary since the construction of the power plant was suspended once because of the protests and the launching of its first unit had to be postponed.
Earlier 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.
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.