| CHENNAI, India, Sept 10
CHENNAI, India, Sept 10 Indian riot police fired
tear gas to break up thousands of protesters on a beach near the
country's largest nuclear power project, due to fire up within
weeks despite months of opposition.
Demonstrators waded into the crashing waves or escaped in
fishing boats as hundreds of police advanced, television images
showed. Rocks were thrown at police and several injuries were
reported on both sides.
Some 4,000 activists, mainly women and children from fishing
villages, had camped on the beach about a mile from the
Kudankulam power station to complain about the threat of
radiation from the plant near the southern tip of India.
First conceived in 1988, the Russian-built plant was
supposed to have gone into operation last year, but protesters
surrounded the compound after an earthquake and tsunami
destroyed Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing
radiation and forcing mass evacuations.
They fear a similar accident in a region that was hard hit
by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Last month, the government's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
gave clearance for fuel to be loaded into one of the plant's two
reactors, one of the last steps before producing power.
Kudankulam will provide 2 gigawatts of electricity -- enough
to power millions of Indian homes and relieve a power crisis in
the state of Tamil Nadu. Further reactors are planned.
India suffers from a peak-hour power deficit of about 12
percent, slowing the economy. A grid failure on two consecutive
days this summer caused perhaps the world's largest-ever
India is committed to raising power capacity mainly through
coal over the next five years, but environmental concerns and
mismanagement have slowed growth in that sector as well.
Coal now accounts for 60 percent of India's energy use.
India plans to add 63 gigawatts of nuclear power by building
30 reactors by 2032. Nuclear accounts for less than 3 percent of
total capacity, and protests have slowed progress at other
(Additional reporting by Annie Banerji in New Delhi; Writing by
Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Nick Macfie)