The gram sabha meetings held yesterday in Tamil Nadu passed resolutions against the proposed hydrocarbon project and the Away From Reactor (AFR), meant to store spent fuels in Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP). The government officials were forced to minute the resolutions after the attendees resorted to sloganeering and protests when the officials initially denied registering the resolutions against the projects.
Opposition to Hydrocarbon Project in Delta Region
The gram sabhas in the delta regions of the state passed resolutions against the implementation of the hydrocarbon project. The general public and farmers in large number submitted petitions to the officials to scrap the project affecting the fertile lands of the delta region districts.
The residents of Kariapatinam village staged a flash protest against the officials for not receiving their representation, demanding the scrapping of the hydrocarbon project. This led to commotion and needed the intervention of the revenue and police officials to pacify the situation. After several hours of protest, the officials yielded to pressure and accepted the petitions of the residents and resolutions against the project.
Neduvasal, the epicentre of the protest against the hydrocarbon project, and 30 other village panchayats also passed resolution against the hydrocarbon project. The residents of Neduvasal village have been protesting in different forms for the past three years against the project.
Opposition to AFR unit in Koodankulam
Various gram sabha meetings in Tirunelveli district have passed a resolution against the proposal of AFR in Koodankulam within the plant premises itself. The residents of villages including Koodankulam, Koothankulam, Perumanal, Kavalakinaru and Viyapathi passed resolutions and submitted memoranda in large numbers against the AFR.
In Vijayapathi village too, the officials declined to receive the representations and declined to register the resolution against the proposed the AFR. The local media reported that the Deputy Superintendent of Police threatened the people to disperse them from the site of the gram sabha meeting.
The proposal to bring up the Rs. 538 crore AFR within the nuclear plant premises has been opposed by political parties and the locals. The public hearing has been indefinitely deferred by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) fearing opposition. The district administration has also denied permission for organising a meeting against the dangers of the AFR facility.
The ruling AIADMK, as usual, has remained silent on the issue, while the state BJP leadership has been advocating the need for such a facility. Incidentally, the Karnataka BJP leadership managed to prevent the plant being established in the Kolar fields in 2012 citing dangers of the plant.
Demand to Conduct Local Body Elections
The gram sabhas also resolved to conduct the local body elections which are pending for the past three years. The public opined that the local level issues are pending for long due to the absence of the local bodies.
The AIADMK government has been postponing the local body elections for reasons known only to them. The Madras High Court pulled up the state government and its inability to conduct the elections on time. The government went on to explain that the electoral rolls need to be corrected even after the general elections were over attracted severe criticism from the court.
The opposition to the government has been mounting from various sectors against the imposition of various projects. The way the people had reacted in the grams sabha meetings are a message to the ruling AIADMK and its partner, the BJP.