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Kudankulam protests end after Jayalalithaa assurance

Wednesday September 21, 2011 06:01:56 PM, IANS

Chennai: The protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu was called off Wednesday following an assurance by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa that the cabinet would pass a resolution taking into account the fears of the people.

"The chief minister assured us that a resolution of the cabinet will be passed taking into account our views on the Kudankulam power project. We also urged her to take up with the centre the issue of a comprehensive energy policy for the nation," M. Pushparayan, convenor of the Coastal People's Federation, told IANS.

"Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa agreeing to the request of the representatives of the protestors has agreed to convene a meeting of the cabinet Sep 22 and pass a resolution not to continue with the project work till the fears of the Kudankulam people are allayed," a government statement issued here said.

According to the statement, a delegation headed by Finance Minister O. Pannerselvam would submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his return from New York Sep 27.

Jayalalithaa would also speak to the prime minister over phone.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW capacity nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam in Tirunelvelli district, about 650 km from here. The first unit is expected to go on stream this December.

Pushparayan said the chief minister also agreed to withdraw the cases filed against the protestors.

Members of the anti-KNPP movement met Jayalalithaa here Wednesday morning.

"We have called off the protest. But it will be effective from Thursday," he added.

According to him, Jayalalithaa told the delegation that nuclear energy comes under the purview of the central government.

However, she assured that a cabinet resolution would be passed to stop the project at least temporarily.

"The chief minister also invited us to be a part of the all-party delegation that would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later," he said.

Before meeting the protestors, Jayalalithaa met union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy to discuss the issue.

Narayanasamy had been deputed by Singh to meet the protestors within hours of Jayalalithaa writing to him that further work on the KNPP be stopped.

Narayanasamy told reporters after his meeting with the chief minister: "The chief minister has conveyed a message to the prime minister. I will convey it to him."

NPCIL officials say they are baffled by the sudden and massive protests against the project in Kudankulam as construction had been going for the past 10 years.

More than 125 people had been on indefinite fast for the past 11 days with several thousands visiting the protest site at Idinthakari near Kudankulam.

S.P. Udayakumar of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy told IANS: "For the past 10 years, people were aware about the dangers of the plant. But, seeing the fate of the nuclear plant in Fukushima in Japan after the tsunami, people have become more knowledgeable about the dangers posed by these plants."

He said the safety drill implemented by the KNPP for the villagers some time ago - closing the nose and mouth tightly, running inside the homes and other such steps - brought the issue to flashpoint.

The other factor for the protests was the fishing ban within a 500-metre radius of the power plant, which upset the fishing community, he said.

He also said the movement has no backing of any political party.





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