Monday’s blast in France that killed one at a nuclear waste site has given a fresh boost to anti-nuclear protests in Tamil Nadu.
Over 100 people have been sitting on an indefinite fast since Sunday and about 10,000 villagers have gathered at Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district near the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which is to be commissioned soon.
“The accident in France has shown how uncertain things can be,” said advocate Siva Subramaniam, a volunteer from the Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), an NGO spearheading the protests.
The protesters want an immediate halt to the operations at Kudankulam. “The state government should also get active and see that the nuclear plant is not commissioned,” said Marumalarchi Desiya Murpokku Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko when he sat on a token hunger strike with the protesting villagers on Monday.
Villagers are concerned the plant, currently undergoing dry runs ahead of commissioning of phase I, would pose danger to life and environment.
Among those who have lent their support to the movement are, Rev Ivon Ambriose, bishop of the Thootukoodi Roman Catholic Church and head of Ayya cult, Balaprajapati Adigalar from Kanyakumari.
Another member og PMANE, SP Udaykumar, claimed over 15,000 villagers were expected on Tuesday to offer relay hunger strike in support of the cause.
“We are expecting more politicians and eminent personalities from Tamil Nadu to express solidarity with the people here.... the extent of damage here would be much higher (than in France), given the inadequate safety and preparedness to face a nuclear disaster,” he said.
So far, no official has met the protesters, he added.