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200 Kundankulam protesters detained

Posted on Sep 17, 10:12AM | IBNS

Around 200 people were detained in Tuticorin on Sunday as they were headed to Idinthakarai to protest against the upcoming Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, media reports said.

The protesters were going to join the hundreds of agitating villagers who have buried themselves neck-deep in sand along the seashore, demanding a halt to the preparations for loading of fuel into one of two nuclear reactors at the controversial plant.

Aided by the the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the villagers had earlier formed a human chain in the sea to draw attention their grievances.

In a major blow to anti-nuclear activists, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to put a stay on the loading of fuel at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).

The apex court was hearing lawyer Prashant Bhushan's petition for a stay in the operation of the nuclear plant.

"The court asked the government whether these 17 recommendations (of AERB) have been made, and whether they have been complied with or not. The government said that these are only additional recommendations by way of abundant caution," Bhushan told media.

"They said safety aspects have been dealt with other judgement related to environmental clearance of the project. Since that is a much longer judgement, the court wanted to go through it," he said.

"The Solicitor General appearing for plant operator MPCIL said that it will take a minimum of two more months from the loading of fuel for the plant to become operational. So the court did not feel the need to pass an interim order," he said.

The apex court will next hear the plea on Sept 20.

The protest against India's largest nuclear power project at Kudankulam reached a flash point on Sept 10 as the police and protesters clashed near the plant daylong while one person died in police firing in Tuticorin.

Protesters began gathering since Sept 9 near the Kudankulam nuclear plant to demonstrate against the loading of enriched uranium fuel in the plant.

Police on Sept 10 fired tear gas shells to disperse protesters in order to control the massive agitation in Kudankulam as the agitationists found their way to the plant and later jumped into the sea to escape police action.

A group of locals and fishermen, led by activist organisations like PMANE and its leader S P Udayakumar, raised a protest movement against the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project coming up in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

While India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said these protests are funded by foreign entities, the local groups denied the charge.

Villagers had first started the protest against the KNPP last year, resorting to hunger strikes and later continued with the agitation in various forms against the nuclear plant.

Even though India's Department of Atomic Energy had cleared the Rs 13,000-crore project, locals and environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, have raised concerns over the project's use of purportedly risky Russian technology.