The Madras high court on Friday gave all-clear to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tirunelveli, 650km from Chennai, while asking the government to set up hospitals and schools for locals.
Twenty-four years in the making, the plant, which was to get operational last year, has been hit by waves of protests by local villagers and anti-nuclear power activists over safety concerns. Protesters even laid siege to the plant, seen as vital to plugging power shortage in the country, last year after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.
The project is coming up in collaboration with Russia. The activists plan to challenge Friday's verdict in the SC.
Dismissing a bunch of petitions challenging commissioning of the units 1 and 2, being built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, an HC division bench said the project did not suffer from any infirmity for want of any clearance.
"There is absolutely no impediment to proceed in units 1 and 2," the bench comprising justice P Jyothimani and justice M Duraiswamy said in its order, keenly awaited for loading the fuel in the 1,000MW unit 1.
The Centre and state government have been asked by the court to oversee the plant. All the 17 safety recommendations made by the task force that reviewed the plant be implemented as committed by the NPCIL, the court said.
The state government has been asked to set up a multi-speciality hospital and schools. Awareness drives and periodic safety drills, too, have been suggested.
The same bench also dismissed a petition challenging the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board's clearance for loading fuel. The board earlier this month gave nod for loading the fuel in the first reactor, taking the project a step closer to commissioning.
"Our struggle against the plant will continue," said SP Udayakumar, convenor, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, which has been at the forefront of the anti-plant protest.
With agency inputs