Kudankulam an erupted volcano
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu has turned out to be more ferocious than the sizzling Mt. Vesuvius which is one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes. The latest happenings are, the agitation spearheaded by an NGO, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) was to protest against the loading of fuel by the KNPP at the police station last night in Idinthakarai, a hamlet in the district. Fearing their arrests, they were resisted by the local public who were supporting the movement. Well if all this is confusing then let me give you a brief of what has happened from the beginning.
KNPP: Kudankulam is a village in southern Tamil Nadu where the KNPP was proposed by the Indian government. The twin 1000MW reactor plant cost the government an whopping 1300 Cr +. The project was in technical collaboration with Russia. However the local fisher folks objected the project from the beginning. The first agreement between the USSR and India was signed on November 20, 1988, by our then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. But the work on the proposed project took another decade to commence. After severe resistance from the local people the project was considerably delayed. In the recent times the first reactor was tested with dummy fuel by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, which operates the plant. Even the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has cleared the docks to load actual fuel, so shortly the project will go on board with full production from the first reactor.
Why PMANE wants government to abandon KNPP: PMANE supports the public fear of a possible collapse of the plant on lines of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident that claimed several lives. On Friday, March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes recorded in the history of the world occurred on the east coast of northern Japan. This earthquake also generated a major tsunami, causing nearly 20,000 deaths. Electricity, gas and water supplies, telecommunications, and railway service were all severely disrupted and in many cases completely shut down. These disruptions severely affected the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing a loss of all on-site and off-site power and a release of radioactive materials from the reactors.
How the protestors exhibited their protest: Initially the protestors were a handful with only fisher men from the hamlet. But they found empathy from many across the borders and people from the neighboring district turned out in thousands at the protest venue and expressed their solidarity. PMANE was educating the public over the nuclear disasters, also voiced its concern on behalf of the public and wanted the project to be closed at any cost. The entire lot were on several occasions on relay strikes. They also embarked on indefinite hunger strikes, nothing affected the governments much, say the agitators who were carried away by false promises by the representatives and withdrew their fasts. The success of the protests was due to the wide participation of agitated women. Then men also followed them and the numbers multiplied enormously.
Yesterday after attempts to reach the plant through the sea route, also failed, the leaders of PMANE wanted to court arrests by protesting at the local police station. But the public supporting them strictly opposed their move. On Monday agitators proceeded through the sea way to the KNPP as Police had laid section 144 in and around the KNPP while closing all entry points. In return police retaliated by firing tear gas shells. In the chaos several public including a few media personnel were also injured say sources. As the protests became virulent and the news spread like wild fire, people from the adjacent Tuticorin district also started to protest. One person was killed in police firing when protesters tried to attack a police station in the district.
What the governments say: The central government had tried its best to convince the public about the enhanced safety adhered in the project. But this argument failed to garner mileage from the agitating public. Infact the local government at a point was going in lieu with the protestors but suddenly shifted gears and supported the centre. Mainly observers feel that it could because of the present power crisis the state is reeling under. Or could be the government is convinced with the safety levels. And many even say that both could be the reasons as well. However the letter from Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh requesting for the entire power that the first reactor produces to help the state tide over the present power problem, speaks volumes on the government stands.
The future of Kudankulam: As of now both central and state governments have put in their iron fists on the agitators and the reactors are ready for real fuel loading. The agitators are at cross roads as, 'if not now,... never', is the scenario at the protest site. The PMANE leaders, Co-ordinator S.P.Udayakumar and leader M.Pushparayan, have been kidnapped by a group of locals on the pretext of preventing them over courting arrests. It is however calm at the hamlet and the future course of action is yet unknown. Will the KNPP go operational? Will the PMANE have its way? Please comment your opinion to form a consensus on the issue. (With inputs from internet-AW AarKay)
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