Chennai: The relay fast protest against the 2,000 MW Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) Wednesday entered its second day at Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district while skeletal staff were carrying out basic maintenance at the plant.
"More than 1,000 people are on this relay hunger strike at Idinthakarai village near Kudankulam. Today (Wednesday) villagers from neighbouring Thommaiyapuram village are on protest fast," M. Pushparayan, convenor of Coastal People`s Federation, told.
He said Tuticorin-based country boat fishermen will be reaching Idinthakari in around 40 vans to participate in the protest.
"Students of the criminology department in University of Madras have confirmed their participation in the protest," Pushparayan added.
According to him, buses are not plying in the villages.
India`s nuclear power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam, around 650 km from here.
The first unit is expected to go on stream in December. The whole project cost is estimated around Rs.13,000 crore.
Refuting the agitator`s charge that NPCIL is working on loading the fuel, an NPCIL official told: "Several activities have to be performed before loading the real fuel. Further, we have to get the regulator`s clearance for fuel loading. We have to open the reactor vessel, remove the dummy fuel and load the real one."
He said, after loading the fuel, another clearance from the regulator has to be secured to start the plant to generate power.
According to NPCIL officials, the district administration has not given clearance for all the employees to go to work at the project site.
"There are only 100 employees -- core officials and supporting staff -- inside the plant," he added.
He said it is going to be difficult for the contractors to mobilise the workforce again as thousands of labourers from states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have vacated Kudankulam and neighbouring areas.