Work Continues At Nuclear Plant as Does Police Crackdown on Protesters

NEWS, KUDANKULAM ANTI-NUCLEAR SATYAGRAHA, INDIA, 9 Apr 2012

Jeemon Jacob - Tehelca

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project site, commissioning expected by the end of May.

Work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project site continues to be on a fast track, and according to sources the plant will be ready to commission within eight weeks. According to an official working at Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project site, the commissioning of the plant is expected by the end of May. Scientists and officials had reviewed the progress of the project last week. “Our scientists and technicians are working over time and we will be able to complete the project in time,” said the official who wished to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, the government crackdown on anti-nuke protesters continues. The Madurai Passport Officer has directed PMANE convener Dr SP Udayakumar to surrender his passport as a criminal case is pending against him. On Friday 30 March, officials from the intelligence bureau and the state police conduced a raid at Udayakumar’s house and the school his wife runs. During 12-hour raid, police confiscated documents of banking transactions and accounts books of the school. “We run a small school for 217 poor children. We have managed to run the school with limited support from local well-wishers,” said Udayakumar.

“I got a letter from Passport officer Madurai to surrender my passport as a criminal case has been registered against me. It’s an oppressive measure by the Central government. Hardcore criminals and the corrupt people have several passports and the authorities have never asked them to surrender their passports. They are treating me as if I am a terrorist,” said Udayakumar.

The letter dated 30 March stated, that there were 98 criminal cases registered against Udayakumar in connection with the Koodankulam anti-nuclear struggle. He was directed to surrender his passport within 15 days of receiving the letter. Leader Pushparayan Victoria, Udayakumar’s colleague at PMANE condemned the government’s move to throttle the struggle by slapping false cases on the protesters. He also wanted the Tamil Nadu Assembly to pass a Resolution to protect Pechiparai water from Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project. He alleged that Tamil Nadu is trying to divert water from Pechiparai dam to Koodankulam power project.

“The Government of Tamil Nadu has prepared a Rs 83-crore project proposal for the renovation of Pechiparai dam and Rs 5crore is going to be spent for desilting the dam. It’s a secret plot to divert the water to Koodankulam project,” said Pushparayan. The 42-feet high Pechiparai dam was opened in 1906 and feeds some 50,000 acres of paddy crop in the fertile Kanyakumari district. “When the KKNPP officials had tried to utilise Pechiparai water for their nuclear project, there was a massive protest against the plan in Kanyakumari district. Ever since, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) authorities and the State and Central government officials had assured the local people that Pechiparai water would not be diverted to the Koodankulam project,” said Pushparayan.

However, despite these assurances, pipelines have been laid in Kanyakumari district and two such lines have been extended all the way up to the coastal villages of Kanyakumari and Kovalam. “They can be extended to Koodankulam at a very short notice,” he added.

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Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka. jeemonj@gmail.com

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