Church backs protest against Koodankulam nuclear project; fast for now called off

Published 21 September 2011  |  
Protests against the Koodankulam nuclear power plants were Wednesday called off after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa assured to look into the demands.

About 125 fishermen were on an indefinite fast for the last 10 days demanding closure of the two 1,000 MW power plants being built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) with Russian help near Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district.

The protesters numbering over 20,000 included environmentalists, women, nuns and priests who are demanding a halt to the nuclear power project which they warn pose a danger to the lives and livelihood of the people.

"The Chief Minister has requested us to call off the fast and we are doing it now," PTI quoted one of the coordinators of the protest movement as saying.

Earlier this week, Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and asked him to temporarily stop work at the plant till villagers are reassured of its safety.

The Church has fully backed the protest and has expressed solidarity with the cause.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) initiated an email campaign that requested the central cabinet to pass a resolution against the project.

The Church of South India (CSI) earlier expressed concern over the huge radioactive accumulations at the plant site which they said could become the principal causes of environmental and health hazards.

"We strongly denounce the move to set up the N-park in Koodankulam, which in fact is a tsunami-prone and quake-prone area," a statement said.

"We demand that the central and state governments hold a democratic and transparent national consultation on nuclear power projects in the country with proper assessment of economic, environmental and human cost of such expansion."

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) also called for decommissioning of the nuclear reactors. The Bishops body urged the Indian government to protect citizens' right to life, and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life.

Activists have been campaigning against the plant for more than eight years. Protests intensified this month after it was reported that one of the nuclear reactors would be commissioned in December.

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