By Leo Fernando
More than 120 Catholic fishermen in Tamil Nadu today called off a hunger strike in protest against the construction of a nuclear plant in Koodankulam following the intervention of the chief minister.
Jayaram Jayalalitha yesterday promised a team of Church leaders and fishermen’s representatives she would have a resolution passed in the state cabinet urging the federal government to halt further work on the plant “till the fears of the public are allayed.”
The Tamil Nadu government later issued a statement saying a delegation from the southern Indian state, headed by Finance Minister O. Pannerselvam, would submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his return from the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27.
“We hope the government agrees to our demands and make a favorable decision,” said Bishop Peter Remigius of Kottar, who was at the meeting with the chief minister yesterday.
The Catholic fishermen, who had been an indefinite hunger strike for the past 12 days, say the Koodankulam plant would “endanger” their lives and livelihoods.
Several thousand people have expressed their support and visited the protest site in nearby Idinthakari.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd is building two 1,000 MW capacity nuclear reactors using Russian technology in Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelvelli district, about 650 km from the state capital Chennai.
The first unit is expected to go on stream in December.