Tamil Nadu nuclear row: Manmohan’s man in Chennai, thousands protest

Tamil Nadu nuclear row: Manmohan’s man in Chennai, thousands protest

The Koodankulam nuclear plant has been the eye of the storm for past 10 days with locals agitating to close it fearing a Fukushima type of situation could be repeated in the event of a Tsunami or earthquake.


Posted 20 September 2011, by V Narayanasamy, The Times of India (Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.), articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com


CHENNAI: Minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy arrived in Chennai on Tuesday en route to Koodankulam to hold talks with the locals who are agitating for the past 10 days against the proposed nuclear plant there.

“All safety measures in the plant are intact. We are hopeful that we will be able to convince the people and allay their fears over the plant,” he told reporters.

Narayanasamy has been deputed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Koodankulam to talk to the people agitating against the project.

 Singh’s action came after he spoke to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa yesterday seeking her guidance to resolve the issue after she shot off a letter to him, accusing the Centre of “abdicating” its responsibilities to address the safety concerns of the people.

Jayalalithaa had written to the Prime Minister, asking him to halt the project till the issue is settled.

The agitation against the project has intensified since late last month after the authorities announced that the first of the two 1×1000 MWe reactors set up at the coastal village of Koodankulam would be commissioned in December.

Thousands of local population and fishermen in and around Koodankulam have been protesting against the project. Around 100 persons are sitting on an indefinite fast for the past nine days, demanding the scrapping of the project.

Protesters fear that a Fukushima type of situation could be repeated in the coastal town in case of tsunami or an earthquake.

Protest to continue: Medha

Pledging her support to the agitation, social activist Medha Patkar said the protesting villagers have decided to continue their 10-day old fast till the state cabinet passed a resolution for stopping work on the project.

“The villagers (living in and around the project site) demand that the state cabinet pass a resolution for stopping the ongoing work and ensure the safety of the people and the natural resources. We completely support them,” she told a press conference here.

Patkar, speaking on her return from a visit to the protest venue near Koodankulam in Tirunelveli District, said the Central government should show the same urgency on the Koodankulam issue as it attached to the Jan Lokpal Bill.

“When West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee could stop Haripur nuclear power plant, why not the Koodankulam plant (be halted)? Tamil Nadu government should also follow a similar approach”, she said.

Hitting out at Jayalalithaa for sending two AIADMK leaders to express solidarity with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during his three-day fast, Patkar said she had not bothered to depute even a single emissary to talk to the protesters.

While the villagers thanked Jayalalithaa for her steps, including writing a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said they had decided to continue the fast until a resolution was passed by the cabinet.

“It is not a battle between Jayalalithaa and (Union Minister) Jayanti Natarajan but a battle between the people and the state”, she said referring to the Chief Minister’s charge that Natarajan had washed off her hands over the impasse.

Patkar, who is also the convenor of National Alliance of People’s Movement, said an inquiry commission would be formed with eminent scientists to go into the impact of nuclear policy and power plants vis-a-vis the rights of people to know about the safety of such projects.

(With inputs from PTI)




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