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Protest against Kudankulam nuclear plant cancelled

Cabinet to pass resolution factoring in concerns

Image Credit: Reuters
Police detain a demonstrator during a protest against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern Indian city ofChennai on Thursday. Demonstrators are protesting against the country’s largest nuclear power project.
Gulf News

Chennai: The protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu was yesterday called off following an assurance by Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha that cabinet would pass a resolution taking into account the fears of the people.

"The chief minister assured us that a resolution of the cabinet will be passed taking into account our views on the Kudankulam power project. We also urged her to take up with the centre the issue of a comprehensive energy policy for the nation," M. Pushparayan, convenor of the Coastal People's Federation, told IANS.

"Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha agreeing to the request of the representatives of the protesters has agreed to convene a meeting of the cabinet [today] and pass a resolution not to continue with the project work till the fears of the Kudankulam people are allayed," a government statement issued here said.

According to the statement, a delegation headed by finance minister O. Pannerselvam would submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his return from New York next Tuesday.

Jayalalitha is also expected to speak to the prime minister over phone.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000MW capacity nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam in Tirunelvelli district, about 650km from here. The first unit is expected to go on stream this December.

Pushparayan said the chief minister also agreed to withdraw the cases filed against the protesters. Members of the anti-KNPP movement met Jayalalitha here yesterday morning.

"We have called off the protest. But it will be effective from [today]," he added.

According to him, Jayalalitha told the delegation that nuclear energy comes under the purview of the central government. However, she gave her assurance that a cabinet resolution would be passed to stop the project at least temporarily.

"The chief minister also invited us to be a part of the all-party delegation that would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later," he said.

Before meeting the protesters, Jayalalitha met union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy to discuss the issue. Narayanasamy told reporters after his meeting with the chief minister: "The chief minister has conveyed a message to the prime minister. I will convey it to him."

NPCIL officials say they are baffled by the sudden and massive protests against the project in Kudankulam as construction had been going for the past 10 years.

More than 125 people had been on indefinite fast for the past 11 days with several thousands visiting the protest site at Idinthakari near Kudankulam.