Tirunelveli: The week-long protest against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant was suspended for two days on Sunday in view of the civic polls in Tamil Nadu even as the stir has left over 100 staff members stranded inside the main project complex.

 Addressing the protesters in Idinthakarai, leaders of the anti-KNPP movement announced the suspension of the second phase of the stir with immediate effect but said it would be resumed on Tuesday.

The suspension was to enable residents of Idinthakarai and nearby villages to exercise their franchise in the two-phase local body elections being held on Monday, they said.
     
With roads leading to KNPP blocked for the past four days, the work in some sections of the plant was moving at a snail's pace and was suspended in some others, officials said.
     
The movement leaders warned that they would resume the blockade if the work resumed during the two days.

More than 100 people have been on the indefinite fast since October 9 while thousands of residents of surrounding villages have been joining them in the stir demanding scrapping of the project.

Earlier, officials said around 100 employees of the Emergency services wing were stranded since Saturday as their relievers could not enter the complex due to the blockade by the protestors.

"The employees of the Emergency services wing are stuck inside since Saturday and have been provided essential supplies," KNPP Director Kasinath Balaji said.

For the third consecutive day, the anti-KNPP protesters prevented scientists and other workers from entering the plant, but after talks with officials, allowed essential commodities inside for workers staying inside the complex.

In another development, miscreants allegedly disrupted water supply to the temporary colony housing 900 construction labourers near the KNPP complex, affecting a section of the dwelling units.

The protest hit normal life in at least 10 villages in and around Idinthakarai. Fishermen did not venture out to sea, expressing solidarity with the protestors.

Balaji said that the continuing agitation would impact the scheduled commissioning of the plant in December.

"It (the stir) has definitely affected the work. The protestors have blocked the road leading to the plant. Police have adviced us not to take our vehicles on that road, since they are blocked," he said.

KNPP staff stranded inside complex
   
A number of employees of Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant are stranded inside the complex due to the ongoing stir by anti-KNPP activists.

With the roads blocked by protesters, employees who had arrived to relieve those inside since Saturday were unable to enter the plant, KNPP Director Kasinath Balaji said.

"Employees of the Emergency services wing at the plant have been stuck inside since Saturday and have been provided essential supplies," he said.

For the third consecutive day, anti-KNPP protesters prevented scientists and other workers from entering the plant, but after talks with officials, they allowed delivery of essential commodities for workers staying inside the complex.

In another development, miscreants allegedly disrupted water supply to a colony close to the project site, where over 900 construction labourers reside, and affecting supply to a section of dwelling units.

As the second phase of the agitation, in which 106 anti-KNPP protesters are on an indefinite fast in Idinthakarai village, entered the eighth day on Sunday, normal life was affected in at least 10 villages in and around the hamlet.

Fishermen did not venture out to sea, expressing solidarity with the activists.

A top KNPP official said that fear about the nuclear plant's safety was "unfounded" and alleged some "mischievous elements" were deliberately spreading rumours.

Officials said food for protestors was being prepared and supplied to the protestors from near the venue.

Intelligence officials are now looking into the origin of those financing the demonstration against the plant.

The demonstrators said they had removed road blocks at many points to allow movement of essential items after talks with officials.

They said they have blocked the main junction near KNPP to prevent movement of workers and stall any progress in work in commissioning it.

District officials said about 10 per cent of construction workers have left for their native places due to the stir.

They said the demonstration was not likely to have any impact on the holding of the local body polls on Sunday.

Organisers of the stir, including its convenor M Pushparayan, had also agreed it should be held smoothly, they said.

Koodankulam reactors are safe: Chidambaram

Centre's Principal Scientific Adviser R Chidambaram on Sunday sought to allay fears of anti-Koodankulam nuclear power project protestors, saying the reactors there are very safe and scientists have looked at all its safety aspects.

"The reactors at Koodankulam are very safe. Our scientists have looked at all safety aspects of the project and ensured it is a very safe reactor. So I hope all opposition against it will be over and the project will come up in due course," he told reporters on the sidelines of a programme here.

He said both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had already stated that scientists would address the fears of locals over the project.

Stating that nuclear power was an inevitable option to meet India's energy needs, he said the plant on being commissioned, would add 2,000 MW power to the national grid.

"Large developing countries have to look at all sources of power. To my mind, nuclear energy is an inevitable option for satisfying India's energy needs," he said.

"India and China are going for nuclear power as these countries are energy stressed," he said.

"There are two parameters which can be used to define the human development index - percapita electricity consumption and female literacy," he said.

"If you look at the present level of percapita electricity consumption, in my calculation you have to raise it six to eight times before India can become a developed country in the fullest sense of the term," he said.

(Agencies)