Anamika Badal

Even as the debate over the nuclear fuel loading at the Koodankulam continues, an extreme sense of unease prevailed over Idinthakarai which is the focal point for the protests.

Ever since Monday morning, the village wore a deserted look with all the homes locked and appeared to be a ghost town. The police were far beyond, almost about 5 km away from the village and had no reason to be there. The protestors meanwhile were away at the sea shore where huge protests took place. Amidst all the protests, a few politicians took to the dais to express solidarity with the people of Idinthakarai and surrounding areas.

Later in the afternoon, as the body of the person who died due to the military aircraft flying too low was brought into the town. The body was deposited outside of the boundary set up by the villagers and beyond which the police do not enter. That changed the entire mood and the whole crowd broke into an emotional outburst. Cries went up and slogans bemoaning the callousness of the governments (State and Central) rent the air. People were extremely upset that the police and the military forces were trying to crush them simply because the State Government had ordered them to act.

Meanwhile, there is a court presence required for S.P. Udaykumar and his wife Meera at a local court in Tamil Nadu state regarding the various charges leveled against both. While it looks unlikely that either of the two would appear in court, the supporters of the husband wife duo have expressed apprehension that the police would eliminate them in a staged “encounter”

One thing remains certain – neither the people of Idinthakarai, the police, the state machinery, the central government forces, the AERB nor the NPCIL are willing to take any kind of chances.

Mourning procession in Idinthakarai

 

Already, there are two court cases pending in the Supreme Court.
One relates to the 17 safety conditions suggested by AERB (but not yet implemented by NPCIL) while a second case – filed on Monday – relates to the liability of Russia in case of an accident. Clearly, if the AERB gives a final nod to the operator –NPCIL – then the court will haul up the regulator (AERB). If NPCIL goes ahead with the fuel loading, then it would be at the receiving end of the SC for not following safety norms.

With the Jayalalitha led state government vacillating between the protestors and the Centre, the project has reached a stage where it is a question of who will blink first.

The world media is watching with bated breath and wants to know who will take the first step forward.

Perhaps, this is calm before the storm? Or, is it a truce all the parties have been trying to achieve for so long? Only time will tell.

The next hearing of the Supreme Court is slated for Thursday 20th September and until then this uneasy standoff is likely to continue. While at the last hearing, the courts gave a sympathetic hearing to the petitioners, it will all depend on how the court decides the case on its legal merits.