(Photographs by Amirtharaj Stephen)
Launching another phase of their anti-nuclear protests in Koodankulam, thousands of fishermen from Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts began a day-long siege by placing themselves in fiber boats surrounding the area shouting slogans from 500 metres in the sea. This is a token siege as they will not be allowed to get any closer to the power plant. PMANE convenor S P Udayakumar (quoted from Firstpost) said –
“We have been appealing to the state and central governments that this power plant is not in the best interest of safeguarding the livelihood interests of the people in the area”, he said.
Udayakumar added that the entire world was shunning nuclear power, and it was imperative that the government did not drag India in the opposite direction. “We are all for power and development but not this costly and dangerous exercise,” he said.
Speaking to the media even as the villagers of Idinthakurai prepare to launch a jal satyagraha 500m away from the site of the Kudankulam plant, PMANE convenor Udayakumar said that they were demanding that the heavy police presence at the village be withdrawn, and that charges against them be dropped.
The protesters are demanding the closure of the plant, citing safety concerns. The locals say they are worried about ecological damage by radioactivity which could affect the livelihood of thousands of fishermen around the plant. Activists have also cited the Fukushima disaster in Japan, triggered by a tsunami last year, to draw parallels about the dangers of a nuclear plant.
The villagers are also demanding the release of those arrested in an earlier protest, and taking back what they term as false cases against activists. They also want the police to be withdrawn from their villages.
The sea siege happened from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on 08 October 2012. Over 5000 security personnel, including the Rapid Action Force, had been deployed, besides the five coast guard vessels monitoring the sea.
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