Members of the central government appointed expert committee to allay the fears of villagers agitating against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) are meeting at Kanyakumari on Tuesday and Wednesday to finalise their report, said an official.
“Except for two members, all others will be here tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss the issues threadbare and come out with a report. On Dec 15, we will make a presentation to the state panel and also provide them a written report,” AE Muthunayagam, convenor of the 15-member expert panel on the KNPP, told IANS by phone from Kanyakumari.
India's nuclear power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW atomic power reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district.
Villagers fear for their lives and safety in case of any nuclear accident.
Their agitation has put a stop to the project work, delaying the commissioning of the first unit slated for this month and increasing the project cost from the budgeted Rs.13,171 crore.
The central and state governments have formed two panels on the issue. The state panel has representatives of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) that spearheads the protest against the project.
As per plans, the multi-disciplinary central panel would meet the state panel and explain the safety features and other aspects of the KNPP. The state panel will, in turn, allay the fears of the people.
At the Thursday meeting, the central panel will expound on the checks and balances that exist in the Indian nuclear establishment; the roles of different organisations; safety features of the KNPP; how nuclear reactor accidents that occurred elsewhere in the world may not happen at Kudankulam; the ecological impact of the reactors; radiation around the nuclear power plants and its impact on humans and other aspects, explained Muthunayagam.
Even as a meeting is slated for Dec 15 with the central panel, PMANE’s coordinator S.P. Udayakumar in a statement urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa to pass a resolution in the state assembly to scrap the KNPP.
Meanwhile, officials of KNPP are baffled at the attitude of the district administration over their inspection of the plant site and the vehicles coming into the plant.
“The protestors and officials board all our vehicles to check the number of people going inside the plant. Officials of district administration also come to the plant and insist on personal inspection of all the facilities to see whether any construction activity is going on,” said an official of KNPP.
He said the district officials say they have been asked by the Tirunelveli district collector to carry out the inspection but do not produce any written instructions.
“Though the nuclear power stations are high security installations, in order to avoid any confrontation with the state government we are cooperating with the demands of the district officials. However, we are sending our reports to our higher officials,” he said.
When contacted for his response, Tirunelveli District Collector R.Selvaraj said he is busy to comment on Kudankulam issue.
According to a NPCIL official, around 80 people are sent inside the first unit to carry out the essential maintenance work.