Anti-Kudankulam activists willing to end protest ‎

Chennai: Even as they have decided to return their voter identity cards, the anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) activists under the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) have agreed to withdraw their current struggle if the central government commits a time-frame for fulfilling some of their demands, said top activists.

"We are not unreasonable. We demand that the government comply with the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in sharing of information about the project; conduct of study by an independent committee on oceanography, hydrology, seismology and geology and conduct a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)," S.P. Udayakumar, co-ordinator of PMANE told IANS over phone from Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu.

PMANE have agreed to withdraw their current struggle

"Let the central government come out with a deadline as to the completion of study on oceanography, hydrology, seismology and geological issues in the Kudankulam area and also to our other demands," M. Pushparayan, another leading activist of the PMANE told IANS.

Agreeing with him, Udayakumar said the CIC in April instructed the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) to release the safety analysis and site evaluation reports relating to KNPP.

The other major demands of PMANE are:

  • Conduct disaster management and evacuation exercises everywhere in the 30 km radius of KNPP; share a copy of the 2008 inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia on the nuclear liability.
  • Share information about the nuclear waste and its management at KNPP.
  • Pass a resolution in the state assembly or by the cabinet that no fresh water will be diverted to KNPP from Pechiparai Dam in Kanyakumari district or from Tamirabarani River flowing through Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts and respect the democratic rights of people to oppose KNPP in a non-violent way.

"The villagers are upset that the government is not willing to talk to them," Udayakumar said.

Meanwhile, the PMANE activists have decided to return their voter identity cards Tuesday in protest against the continued neglect of their peaceful protest by the central and state governments.

"We will wait till today (Monday) evening to hear from the state government for a meeting. If there are no calls then tomorrow (Tuesday), we will return our voter identity cards to the Radhapuram tehsildar," Udayakumar said.

He said the decision to return the voter cards was taken by the struggle committee, the community of elders, women and youth.

PMANE has given a call to like-minded Indians to surrender their voter identity cards protesting the government's attitude towards the peaceful protestors.

Udayakumar said people are upset at the government's attitude towards their peaceful protest against the KNPP for the past nine months and the indefinite hunger strike by around 340 people at Idinthakarai for the past seven days.

India's atomic power plant operator NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW reactors at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here.

Work at the project had come to a standstill last year after villagers in the area, fearing for lives in case of a nuclear accident, mounted an intensive protest.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier passed a resolution asking the central government to halt work at the plant and to allay the fears of the locals.

To resolve the issue, the central and state governments set up two panels.

The central panel submitted its final report on 31 Jan. The Tamil Nadu government set up another expert committee which too favoured the project.

In March this year, the state government gave its green signal to the project and also announced Rs.500 crore for local area and infrastructural development.

Following that, work at KNPP was restarted with police protection.