Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu):  Anti-Koodankulam nuclear power plant protestors on Saturday criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement that the project would be operationalised in a few weeks and set December 31 as the deadline for the Centre to remove the uranium kept in the plant or else face "intensified agitation".

At an emergency meeting convened in the light of Singh's announcement on Friday in Moscow that the first unit of the plant would be operationalised in weeks, a resolution was passed by the protestors who demanded that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) remove the fuel kept in the KNPP campus by December 31.

"The Prime Minister's comment is highly condemnable. We demand that the Centre take the uranium away from the site before December 31 or else we will intensify our protests further from January 1. We wonder whether the PM is working for us (Indians) or for foreign companies," M Pushparayan, a representative of the protestors in the state government-appointed committee to hold talks with the Central panel over the issue, said.

The protesters will also organise a rally on Sunday criticising government's comments. "We are organising a rally from the Koodankulam site to Radhapuram on Sunday to condemn Indian and Russian governments (on the issue). Indian government has gone back on its words," he said.

Udayakumar, Co-ordinator of the People's Movement of Nuclear Energy, spearheading the protests, said the PM's remarks indicated that work was going on "secretly" at the site. "This is against Tamil Nadu assembly resolution demanding a halt to the work at the plant till the people's fears are allayed," he said.

Another resolution passed by the meeting, which was attended by 21 leaders of the movement, including Udayakumar, said protestors would "seige" the KNPP site on the day the project would be commissioned so that no one can enter its campus.

Meanwhile, the third stage of the relay fast being undertaken demanding the scrapping of the Plant entered its 61st day on Saturday. The three-day fast being observed by PMANE in protest against the Prime Minister's visit to Russia also entered its second day.

Fishermen in and around the coastal village of Idinthakarai, where the anti-KNPP protests are concentrated, did not venture out to sea on Saturday over the issue.

However, the nuclear plant found support from NELSTIA, the Tirunelveli District Small and Tiny Industries Association, which will observe an 'Industrial Holiday' on Dec 20 when about 3,000 units belonging to the organisation will refrain from work to urge the necessity of the project.

NELSTIA members would also organise a demonstration at Jawahar ground at Palayamkottai here on the same day, they said. The show of support would cause a loss of Rs 70 crore to the district and Rs 2,000 to the state, NESTIA president D S M Joy said.

(Agencies)