Edited by Abhinav Bhatt | Updated: September 10, 2012 19:45 IST
One protester was reportedly killed when the police opened fire in Tuticorin district, which neighbours Kudankulam, after an agitation by fisherman in support of the Kudankulam protesters went out of hand. The situation is tense now.
In Kudankulam, protestors jumped into the sea when the police, caught by surprise when a 1000-strong demonstration used marched in using a different route, fired tear gas in an attempt to control the crowd.
The tear gas was fired when the protesters were on the sea shore and just half a kilometre from the controversial plant which has been opposed by villagers and fishermen who remain unconvinced by assurances from experts and the government about security measures.
Defying prohibitory orders, the protesters refused to disperse from the shores, despite repeated pleas by top police and district officials. Activists have cited the Fukushima disaster in Japan, triggered by a tsunami last year, to draw parallels about the dangers of a nuclear plant in this coastal part of India.
The villagers and the police are now blaming each other for the violence. While the police says the villagers spread nets on seashore to trap them and attacked them with sticks, villagers accuse the police of deliberately creating a situation to target them.
Reacting to the protests, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said today, "Foreign NGOs are supporting the Kudankulam protests. Nuclear energy is clean energy." Back in February, the Prime Minister had also blamed foreign NGOs for inciting and funding the Kudankulam protests.
So far, the village of Idinthakarai had served as the base camp and protest site for the activists and villagers. The villagers and activists want the government to immediately close the plant. The campaign has been led by SP Udhayakumar who heads the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy. Mr Udhayakumar was warned yesterday that he would be arrested along with many others if he went ahead with today's rally. 5000 policemen have been posted around the plant.
Commissioning the first unit at the atomic plant was cleared by a recent inspection conducted by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
After intense protests last year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to the PM to suspend all operations at the atomic project. However, after experts said that the plant has world-class safety features, she did a u-turn and has since been demanding that all the power generated by Kudankulam must be made available for Tamil Nadu.
During the peak of the protests, engineers and scientists had to be given police escorts to enter the Indo-Russian plant.
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