The Tamil Nadu police on Monday resorted to a cane charge to disburse thousands of villagers, including women and children, staging protests against the upcoming Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).
India's atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian equipment at Kudankulam since 2001.
Villagers have opposed the project for the past one year, fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan in March 2011.
For the first time since the protests began more than a year ago, a large contingent of police have entered Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai, which has served as the hub of the protest.
It was from this village that the anti-nuclear plant protestors charted their protest plans after the Tamil Nadu government gave its green signal to the project last year. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier asked the central government to allay the fears of the public before carrying out construction work.
A resident of the village, speaking to IANS on phone, said around 300 policemen were in the village. With police resorting to cane and lobbing of tear gas, protestors started running and some tried to escape by running towards the sea.
A Tamil television channel showed protestors throwing sand and stones at the police while being lobbed with tear gas shells.
The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) - spearheading the anti-KNPP movement - had decided to take its fight against the Rs 17,120-crore project, away from Idinthakarai village near Kudankulam after officials had announced that enriched uranium fuel would be loaded in the first of the two nuclear reactors around September 11.
On Sunday, around 8,000 people from eight villages near Kudankulam assembled at the beach since morning to stage their protest.
There is a prohibitory order against the assembly of people near the plant and around 4,000 policemen have been deployed around the plant site.
with inputs from IANS