Prospective investors to the proposed 4,000 megawatt thermal power plant here witnessed a high-voltage angry exchange of words between the police, district officials and locals on a day that saw the villagers hoisting black flags on beaches and boats.
Wednesday began with lower-rung officials from the district administration visiting the villages at 6.30 am to persuade them not to stage protests during the visit.
After the villagers failed to budge, a team of police officers and revenue officials landed in the villages around 10 am and insisted that they remove all the black flags.
After some argument and subsequent persuasion by the local women folk, who urged the agitated male villagers not to confront the huge posse of police posted in the vicinity, the villagers agreed to take off the flags.
But a large crowd of villagers stayed put, waiting for the investors, who arrived around 12 noon.
A 400-strong police contingent managed to hold the protesters at bay and let the wannabe investors visit the site.
The representatives of various companies, accompanied by officials of the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) – project promoters - first visited the beaches near Panaiyur Periakuppam where the port and coal
jetty for the plant is to be situated.
When they tried to leave after about 20 minutes, fishermen and villagers blocked the convoy comprising over 15 cars, demanding answers for what they termed as "misleading information" being given by the Power Finance Corporation about the plant site that is abundant in natural resources.
"We wanted them to answer some of the questions we had posted by way of petitions. They were not willing to respond," said Marimuthu, a fisherman leader.
It took almost an hour of dialogue with the protestors by senior officers before the police were able to make them clear the way.
The villagers, however, made it clear to the officials that they will not allow the plant to come up in the area.
The investors faced similar protests when they visited the proposed plant site 5 km away from Panaiyur Periakuppam before heading back to Chennai.
While the Cheyyur project received environment clearance from the Centre recently, components of the projects have already been challenged in the National Green Tribunal, which recently issued orders against finalising bids for the project.
A meeting of prospective investors had taken place on October 15 in New Delhi.
On Tuesday, activists had alleged that the Power Finance Corporation had carried out the whole exercise in a non-transparent manner.Despite repeated attempts, officials of the Power Finance Corporation could not be contacted.