More than 1,000 members of a Hindu group close to India's ruling party have vowed to go ahead with a protest march on Wednesday in support of construction of a port by the Adani Group which Christian protesters want to block for environmental reasons.
Work on the $900 million Vizhinjam port in the southern state of Kerala has been halted for almost four months by the protesters from a mostly Christian fishing community who say the port is causing erosion that has undermined their livelihoods.
The villagers, led by Catholic priests, are blocking the site's entrance and clashes with police on Sunday led to more than 80 people being injured.
Leaders of the Hindu United Front, an organisation close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which backs the construction, vowed to march in support of the project.
But police have not given permission for the action by the Hindu group and deployed hundreds of officers to block a road leading to the port's entrance.
"We will go ahead with the rally whether the police permit us or not," the organising secretary of the Kerala Hindu United Front, C Babu, said.
A spokesperson for the Adani group could not immediately be reached for comment.
The port is of strategic importance to both India and billionaire Gautam Adani, Asia's wealthiest man and the world's third-richest. Once completed, it will become India's first container transhipment hub, rivalling Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka for business on the lucrative east-west trade routes.
Critics say Adani, who comes from the same state as Modi, has benefited from the policies of the federal government.
Both Adani's conglomerate and the government of Kerala have denied accusations the port is causing environmental damage.
Supporters of the port have gathered across the street from the protesters.
Kerala police have already sent reinforcements to the Vizhinjam area after villagers stormed a police station late on Sunday.
The protest has continued despite repeated orders by Kerala's top court to allow construction to restart. Police have been unwilling to take action, fearful that doing so will set off social and religious tensions.
The first phase of construction was due to be completed by the end of 2024. The Adani Group has said in court filings that the protests have caused "immense loss" and "considerable delay".
Adani has also faced protests in Australia, where environmental activists launched a "stop Adani" movement to protest his Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland state.