Chennai: The protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is a classic David-Goliath fight between ordinary citizens and the powerful Indian government, the leader of the anti-KNPP movement says.

In an open letter on Tuesday to Indian citizens seeking their support for the struggle, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) coordinator S.P. Udayakumar said: "This is a classic David-Goliath fight between the ordinary citizens of India and the powerful Indian government supported by rich Indian capitalists, MNCs, imperial powers and the global nuclear mafia."

PMANE has been spearheading the anti-KNPP protest since last year, bringing to a standstill the commissioning of the first reactor last December at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli around 650 km from here.

India's nuclear power plant operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), is building two 1,000 MW atomic power reactors with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai.

However, villagers in Kudankulam, Idinthakarai and nearby areas, fearing for their safety in case of any accident, are dead set against the project. Udayakumar in his letter said the MNCs and others promise foreign direct investment (FDI), nuclear power, development, atom bombs, security and superpower status. "We demand risk-free electricity, disease-free life, unpolluted natural resources, sustainable development and harmless future," he said.

Tracing the history of the protests against the nuclear power project since last August - holding of indefinite fast, Tamil Nadu resolution asking the centre to stop construction activities till the people's fears are allayed, Udayakumar said the protest has been going on for the past 197 days.

"There is no foreign country or agency or money involved in this classic people's struggle to defend our right to life and livelihood. Our fishermen, farmers, workers and women make small voluntary donations in cash and kind to sustain our simple Gandhian struggle," Udayakumar said in his letter. According to him, the government instead of understanding "the people's genuine feelings and fulfilling our demands", has foisted serious cases of 'sedition' and 'waging war on the Indian state' on the leaders of PMANE. He said there are around 180-200 cases on the leaders of the anti-KNPP movement.

Udayakumar urged people to write to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the dangerous nuclear power project.