Kudankulam, villages tense after violent protest (Second Lead)

September 10th, 2012 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Sep 10 (IANS) About eight villages near Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district are tense following a cane charge by police on hundreds of villagers, including women and children, who were protesting against the upcoming nuclear power plant, police said Monday.

“The situation is tense. The protestors have gone back to their villages and police have followed them to prevent the situation from going out of control,” a police official in Tirunelveli district told IANS.

According to him, police are yet to ascertain how many people were injured in the Monday morning clash.

“Several police officials have also been injured by stone-pelting protestors,” he said.

Tamil television channel visuals showed village roads strewn with stones and burning tyres.

“The terrain is a very tough one,” the police official said.

Earlier, officials had announced that enriched uranium fuel would be loaded in the first of the two nuclear reactors around Sep 11.

This is the first time police started cracking down on the protestors who launched their agitation against the atomic power plant more than a year ago.

For the first time since the protests began, a large contingent of police have entered Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli district, which has served as the hub of the protest. A resident of the village, speaking to IANS, said around 300 policemen were in the village.

It was from this village that the anti-nuclear plant protestors charted their protest plans after the Tamil Nadu government gave its green signal to the project last year. The government had earlier asked the central government to allay the fears of the public before carrying out construction work.

India’s atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian equipment at Kudankulam since 2001.

Villagers under the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) banner have opposed the project for the past one year, fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan March 2011.

A Tamil television channel showed protestors throwing sand and stones at the police, who lobbed tear gas shells at the mob.

The PMANE - that is spearheading the anti-KNPP movement - had decided to take its fight against the Rs.17,120-crore project near the plant away from Idinthakarai village near Kudankulam.

On Sunday around 8,000 people including women and children from eight villages near Kudankulam assembled at the beach since morning to stage their protest.

There is a prohibitory order against the assembly of people near the plant. Around 4,000 policemen have been deployed around the plant site.

The whereabouts of PMANE leaders are not known.

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