Protest leader Udayakumar says that they are still ‘committed’ to continue their non-violent protests against the nuke plant

Jeemon Jacob

Anti-nuke protesters have started their fourth indefinite hunger strike at Idinthakarai Lourde Matha Church grounds on Tuesday afternoon. Twenty five villagers representing four villages have gone on an indefinite hunger strike. From 4 May onwards, women will also join the protests. According to Dr SP Udayakumar, convener, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), the people of the affected villages decided to relaunch their agitation against the commissioning of the nuclear plant in Koodankulam.

“Though we have announced that we will relaunch agitation from May, in the morning we decided to delay the agitation for two days honouring the requests of the district administration. But our people were not ready to delay the agitation. They wanted to resume hunger strike at the earliest and we are not going to stop it till the closure of the Koodankulam Nuclear plant,” Udayakumar said.

Twelve representatives from the affected villages around Koodankulam met District Collector R Selvaraj and other senior police officials and held discussions to sort out the Koodankulam stalemate. “When we met the district administration and handed over our demands, they asked us to delay the agitation for two days. We have conveyed their request to the village council members who are backing anti-nuke protests,” said Father Arimavalavan, a priest who led the village representatives.

“But people were not ready to honour the requests of the district administration,” the priest said. PMANE has demanded that the government constitutes an independent and transparent national committee to conduct a study on hydrology, geology, oceanography and seismology of the region and share the report with the local people. Anti-nuke protesters wanted the management to conduct disaster management and evacuation exercises around 30 km radius of KKNPP adhering to the international standards.

“We have listed our demands and now it’s the duty of government to react. We also want the government to share a copy of the secret inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia in 2008 on nuclear liability,” said Udayakumar.

According to him, the fourth phase of the protests will be on a peaceful mode. “Since the beginning, we have been conducting our protests on a non-violent platform. We are committed to continuing our protests on the same line,” said Udayakumar.

Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka
[email protected]