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Kudankulam stir docks at Tuticorin port.

IN A renewed show of mass resistance, anti- nuclear protesters on Saturday laid siege to the Tuticorin port against loading of uranium fuel in a reactor at the Kudankulam nuclear power project ( KNPP).

More than 3,000 protesters, onboard about 500 mechanised and country boats, blocked the entry channel to the port for two hours, officials said.

Tuticorin, about 100 km from Kudankulam in neighbouring Tirunelveli district, is a major harbour connecting Tamil Nadu with various international maritime routes.

Blocking the docking and departure of any vessel, the protesters raised slogans against the central and state governments asking them to stop the loading of enriched uranium rods at the KNPP, which has been cleared by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board -- India's nuclear watchdog.

CISF and the Marine police personnel stood guard to check further advance by the protesting fisherfolk.

The siege was brought to an end and normal operations were resumed at the port after the Coast Guard stepped in and chased the protesters away.

The port officials, however, said there was no disruption of any vessel movement as they had rescheduled ship arrivals and departures in advance taking into account the protest. " Last night itself we hurried vessel loading and unloading operations. Only the piloting operations ( bringing the ships and taking them out) were not done, which resumed after the protest," an official said.

Significantly, the face of the anti- nuclear campaign, S. P. Udayakumar, against whom a non- bailable warrant of arrest has been issued by a local court, came out in the open and led the ' jal satyagraha' in the sea at Kuthakuzhi, a fishing hamlet in the vicinity of the atomic plant.

Forming a human chain, thousands of fishermen, including women and children, stood in waist- deep water there. This was the second time in a week that the fishermen and activists took to this form of protest.

Udayakumar has mostly remained underground since September 10, when their protest against the nuclear plant took a violent turn leading to the death of a fisherman in police firing.

Led by the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy ( PMANE), coastal communities in southern districts of Tamil Nadu have been on a warpath against the plant over safety concerns for over a year.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 23, 2012
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