TIRUNELVELI: The proposed construction of Away From Reactor (AFR) facility at the Kudankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) site in Tirunelveli district is breathing new life into the anti-nuclear protests here.
Pivoted by anti-nuke activists like Dr S P Udayakumar and Pushparayan, the anti-KKNPP struggle was at its zenith for two years since 2011 at the coastal hamlet of Idinthakarai in the backyard of the KKNPP. The unprecedented mass struggle by the people of Idinthakarai and Kudankulam was so infectious that it drew support cutting across the state boundary from nearby Kerala. Even activists from Japan, Australia and German visited the Idinthakarai protest.
However, the prolonged protest was crushed by the state and central governments with local police and paramilitary. More than 30,000 cases including sedition charges were registered. As the result, many youths from the coastal areas of Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts could not renew their passports to go abroad in search of jobs. Many could not apply for government jobs within the country due to pending cases against them.
The leaders of the mass movement, Dr SP Udayakumar and Pushparayan also became less aggressive against the nuclear project and diverted their attention to other issues.
The proposal for the creation of the Away From Reactor (AFR) facility however has now awakened the dormant protest spirit against KKNPP in the southern district, which, many of the anti-KKNPP activists believe, will rejuvenate the people's protest against KKNPP.
Sundarrajan of the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) petitioned the district collector to scrap the proposal of creating the ARF and said that his association has started gathering radical elements against it. Udayakumar, urged the elected people's representatives at least from the districts of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari to openly declare their support to people in the issue. He also welcomed DMK president M K Stalin's statement that his party MPs and MLAs from the southern districts will participate in the public hearing scheduled to held at Radhapuram on July 10.
Udayakumar added that the public hearing on creating AFR facility should be held, either at Idinthakarai or Kudankulam village closer to the project site instead of organising it at Radhapuram which is far away.
Founder president of the Meenava Makkal Katchi (Fishermen People's Party), Alangara Parathavar of Thoothukudi assured the backing of Thoothukudi district fishermen to the people fighting against creating AFR facility, and demanded that the public hearing be held at the Tirunelveli district collectorate, so that people from nearby districts too could participate to show their real strength against the nuclear power project.
State police is gearing up for the event as according to police sources, Tirunelveli district boundaries will be sealed to prevent activists from outside to participate in the public hearing....