Seeking to end the impasse over the Kudankulam nuclear plant issue, the Jayalalilthaa government in Tamil Nadu on Monday gave the go ahead to the controversial project and announced a Rs 500 crore special development package for the area where it is located.
"In accordance with (today's) cabinet decision, immediate steps will be taken (to facilitate commissioning) of the plant," Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said in a statement, breaking her silence over the issue.
She also sought the cooperation of political parties and all concerned to immediately resume work at the plant in Tirunelveli district, stalled following protests since September 2011, spearheaded by the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy.
The cabinet decided to allocate Rs 500 crore for locals to set up among others, a cold storage to store fish catch, construct houses, laying of roads and repairing mechanised fishing boats of local fishermen, she said.
The decision comes a day after completion of polling at Sankarankoil, which falls in the same district.
Meanwhile, acting tough against anti- nuclear activists demanding closure of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, five key functionaries of a body spearheading the movement against KNPP were arrested at the plant site on Monday.
Police said one of those arrested was the legal advisor of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, spearheading the movement against KNPP, while the others were 'instrumental in instigating the locals against the plant.'
Meanwhile, PMANE chief convenor R B Udhayakumar began an indefinite fast at Indinthakarai village Monday, demanding closure of the plant and that it should not be commissioned without proper disaster management training to the locals.
He also demanded release of those arrested today. Police said cases were registered against nine persons, including those arrested, under sections of IPC, for holding demonstrations without permission, preventing KNPP plant officials from discharging their duty and blocking roads.
In another development, thousands of people from Idindhakarai village today blocked the entrance of the plant, demanding release of those arrested. Sources close to Udhayakumar said all the villagers would court arrest if those arrested were not released.
Valliyur DSP Staneley Jose told PTI that efforts are on to persuade the agitators to disperse and warned that all those trying to block entry of KNPP workers would be arrested. Top police officials are camping at the site of KNPP, where a strong police contingent has been deployed.
"We have deployed police inside and outside the plant. Any harm to the employees or to the plant will be viewed very seriously and severe action will be taken," an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.