The protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu, South India, intensified Saturday as fishermen blocked the Tuticorin port in the state. Anti-nuclear activists and the local villagers have been opposing the construction of the nuclear plant in the Idinthakarai district since several months.

Fishermen from Idinthakarai and the nearby Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts came in hundreds in their fishing boats and blocked the port’s approach channel on Saturday. Around 3,000 fishermen in small and big boats were out in the sea shouting slogans against the government and the nuclear plant.

The protests against the plant escalated after the process of filling uranium into the reactors in KNPP started Wednesday, following a final clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for fuel loading in the first unit of the Indo-Russian joint venture on Tuesday.

The government had appealed to the protestors to withdraw from blocking the Tuticorin port as it affected the export-import trade.

Localities and anti-nuclear activists, under the aegis of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), have been protesting against KNPP for more than a year, saying that plant may lead to a nuclear disaster in the area.

The activists attracted nationwide attention for their novel protest methods. They had recently organized a "water strike (jal satyagraha)" against the construction of the plant, where the demonstrators including women and children formed chains and pyramids in the sea for hours. A similar strike where the protestors formed a human chain in knee-deep sea water was organized by PMANE activists at Koothakuzhi, 10 km from Kudankulam.

The protestors allege that the plant lacks all the safety measures required for safe functioning and that the government should use alternate sources of power generation rather than nuclear.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that all necessary safety measures will be in place when the nuclear plant becomes functional.  After the completion of fuel filling, which will take two weeks, the plant will undergo a criticality test followed by power production.