Indian Villagers Demand Closure of Nuclear Plant

Posted October 13th, 2011 at 1:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Villagers living near a nuclear power plant in southern India have staged a protest to demand closure of the facility due to safety concerns.

The villagers blocked roads leading to the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu state on Thursday.

Fishermen joined the protest out of fear that wastewater from the plant will pollute their fishing grounds. Some of the villagers are holding a hunger strike in front of the Russian-built facility, which has not yet started operations.

In a letter Wednesday to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised the government will take all steps to allay the fears of local residents. Mr. Singh said officials share the concerns of people in the area.

Villagers in Tamil Nadu state stepped up their opposition to the facility after a Japanese nuclear plant leaked radiation following an earthquake and tsunami in March.

India has 20 nuclear power plants, and plans to build dozens of new atomic reactors in order to quadruple its current output of about 5,000 megawatts of nuclear power to 20,000 megawatts by 2020.

In April, Prime Minister Singh announced plans to create a new regulatory body to oversee the country's nuclear reactors. The proposed legislation followed mounting concerns about nuclear safety in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which damaged the country's Fukushima nuclear plant.