Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tough message that the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant cannot be allowed to remain "idle" and would be commissioned in a couple of weeks drew sharp reaction from anti-Nuclear protestors who threatened to intensify their stir from New Year.
On the way back from Moscow, Singh said there is a growing view which he also shared that the agitation against the Russian-aided project has been "overdone" and "we cannot simply let it (the plant) idle", pointing that Rs 14,000 crore had been sunk on it.
Echoing the Prime Minister's view on the commissioning of the project, Home Minister P Chidambaram said in Chennai the Centre would take all steps to commission the project.
"By removing the fears of the locals and their doubts, the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project will definitely be commissioned. Government will take all steps to implement the project", Chidambaram said at a function here to celebrate Congress President Sonia Gandhi's 66th birthday.
Minister of State in the PMO, V Narayanaswamy, asked the Tamil Nadu government to act against the protestors since cases have already been filed. "Why hasn't the state government acted against the protestors (despite filing cases)?", he asked, speaking to reporters here.
Criticising the protestors' for preventing scientists from proceeding to work in the plant, he also expressed the Centre's willingness to hold talks with them.
Unhappy over Singh's statement, anti-KNPP protestors, who held an emergency meeting at Tirunelveli, set December 31 as the deadline for the Centre to remove the uranium kept in the plant or else face "intensified agitation".
"Prime Minister's comments are highly condemnable. We demand that the Centre take uranium away from the site before Dec 31, or else we will intensify our protests further from January 1", M Pushparayan, a representative of the protestors in the State government-appointed committee to hold talks with the Central panel over the issue, said.