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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Kudankulam row: Cops launch crackdown to arrest activists behind stir

AFP  Chennai, September 11, 2012
First Published: 16:47 IST(11/9/2012) | Last Updated: 17:12 IST(11/9/2012)

Police launched a crackdown on Tuesday to arrest activists who led a mass protest against the loading of uranium at a new nuclear power plant, a senior officer said.

One fisherman was shot dead by police while hundreds of others clashed with anti-riot personnel on Monday in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu where protesters tried to lay siege to the Russia-backed project.

Police arrested several activists and were trawling local villages on Tuesday in the Tirunelveli district where Kudankulam is situated, police superintendent Vijendra Biduri said.

"We have so far arrested 30 people and more arrests are going on as we have identified those behind Monday's chaos, rioting and arson," Biduri explained.

"We are going after the main leaders," he added, describing the situation at the nuclear plant as "fully under control."

Monday's violence broke a six-month lull in protests at the plant, which campaigners say is a danger to local people.

Police detain a demonstrator during a protest near a nuclear power project in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. Reuters/UNI

The Kudankulam nuclear plant is one of many India's hopes to build as part of its ambitions to produce 63,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2032 – a nearly 14-fold increase from current levels.

Authorities say the first of two units of the much-delayed project is ready for operation and Monday's protest followed plans to load uranium fuel into the nuclear plant.

India's existing 20 nuclear reactors currently generate just 4,780 megawatts.

India has been caught in the backlash against atomic power caused by the disaster at Japan's Fukushima power plant in March 2011.

Members of PMANE during the dharna near KKNPP, in Kudankulam. UNI

Since Fukushima, activists have also campaigned to stop work scheduled to start in 2013 at Jaitapur in western Maharashtara, which would be one of the world's biggest nuclear facilities.

Nuclear energy has been India's priority since 2008 when then-US president George W Bush signed into law a deal with New Delhi that ended a three-decade ban on US nuclear trade with India.

Since then, France, Russia and private US and Japanese firms have been locked in fierce competition to sell new reactors to India.


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