10/22/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Tamil Nadu: controversial Kudankulam nuclear power plant begins operating

The Indian-Russian plant starts up just as Indian Prime Minister Singh and Russian President Putin meet in Moscow summit. For years, the project suffered delays, especially because of protests by local residents fearful that pollution caused by discharges might contaminate the Bay of Bengal.

Chennai (AsiaNews) - After years marked by delays due to technical problems and protests by the local population, the nuclear plant at Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu) began operating today. The result of an Indo-Russian project, the plant started up just as India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow to sign new agreements in the energy field.

Although planned in 1988, the Kudankulam project started only in 1997. Since then, it has been long at the centre of protests that led to several delays.

According to residents near the plant, the discharges from the reactors will kill fish and destroy the marine ecosystem in the Bay of Bengal, the main source of income for many small fishermen in the area.

At the beginning of 2012, construction picked up steam. In September of the same year, in Idinthakari, the epicentre of peaceful protests, one of the many demonstrations turned into violent clashes with the police, culminating in the death of a man and a girl, as well as the desecration of a church.

The local church has often been called to task by the authorities for stirring up demonstrations and receiving funds from foreign NGOs.

Based on these claims, the government of Tamil Nadu froze for a long period the bank accounts of four groups, two of which are led by Mgr Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticurin.

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