Govt talks with N-plant agitators `inconclusive`

The indefinite fast by over 100 people against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in the district has continued for the fifth day.

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2011, 00:11 AM IST

Tirunelveli: The indefinite fast by over 100 people against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in the district on Thursday continued for the fifth day as the talks between the government and the protestors remained inconclusive.

Tamil Nadu government deputed three ministers -- Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Minister Shanmuganathan, Labour Welfare Minister Chellapandian and Khadhi and Village Industries Minister Chendur Pandian -- to hold talks with the protestors.

Official sources said that the ministers had asked the agitators for two days time, which was accepted but the protestors were firm over the closure of the nuclear plant.

The ministers held talks with P Udayakumar, Jayakumar and advocate Sivasubramanian, who are spearheading the protest.

Tirunelveli District Collector, Selvaraj had written last night to the leaders spearheading the stir, urging them to hold talks.

Meanwhile, one of the 127 agitators on fast on the issue, Ganesan of Idinthakarai, was hospitalised after he fainted today, police said.

The fast of Radhapuram Assembly constituency representative Michael Royappan, of the Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam (DMDK), also entered its second day today.

The MLA is observing the fast in support of the agitation.

In the talks that were held at the taluk office, the ministers were accompanied by senior officials including the District Collector and the Tiruvelveli Range Deputy Inspector General of Police, M Varadharaju. The KNPP project, undertaken in collaboration with Russia, envisages building of two 1,000 MW VVER type reactors by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India in the coastal village of Koodankulam.

The protests have intensified in the last few weeks after KNPP officials said the hot run (testing with dummy fuel) of the first reactor has reached the final stage and commercial power production would begin in December.

On August 15, a meeting of the local village sabha at Idinthakarai, which falls in the two km radius of the KNPP, resolved that the plant should be shelved, citing safety concerns and the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

While 127 people under the banner `Confederation against KNPP` have been on the indefinite fast at Idinthakarai since September 10, thousands of residents of surrounding villages have been joining them in observing a relay hunger strike.

For the fifth day today, fishermen of the area did not put out to sea for fishing while students continued to boycott schools to protest against the plant.

Several political parties, the Federation of Traders Association and local social organisations have extended their support to the protest.