The Centre has backed the Tamil Nadu government's decision to stamp out protests against the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant, avowing its safety and blaming protesters for Monday's crackdown.
"The protests are illegal. The Madrash high court has cleared the plant. The protesters burnt down a police station and could have threatened the high-security nuclear plant. We reiterate our stand that foreign organisations are behind the unrest," minister of state in the Prime Minister's office, V Narayanasamy, told HT.
The government has been accusing foreign anti-nuclear NGOs of fomenting anti-nuclear campaigns in India.
Narayanasamy rejected calls for a fresh safety evaluation of the plant.
"The PM's 15-member safety audit, the state government's expert panel and assurances from former president APJ Abdul Kalam have fully addressed the safety issues," he said.
India currently operates 20 reactors at six sites, but plans to quadruple its 4,780-MW capacity to nearly 20,000 MW by 2020 by adding 30 more plants.
The country suffers from peak-hour power deficit of about 12% that acts as a brake on its economy. About 40% Indians, or 500 million people, do not have enough electricity.
Monday's protests were the most dramatic act since anti-nuclear activists started an agitation in August last year in which two policemen were allegedly taken hostage and one protester was killed.
Though there was some apprehension at "the highest level" immediately after the Japan incident, a government-ordered safety audit cleared the Indian plant, Narayanasamy said.
Additionally, a host of new security features is being added to the country's 20 reactors, the minister said.
Plea in SC
An activist on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Madras HC decision refusing to restrict the Union government from commissioning the controversial Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
The appeal claimed that non-implementation of various recommendations formulated by the government's Task Force "puts to grave risk the safety of millions of citizens."