Struggle against Kudankulam n-plant to continue: Agitators

Chennai, July 11 (IANS) The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) Thursday said it would continue its struggle against the setting up of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu, on a day when the atomic energy regulator gave its nod for the first reactor to start fission process.

In a statement, the PMANE's struggle committee said: "Since the nuclear authorities have ignored the peoples' sentiments and interests, the NDMA's (National Disaster Management Authority) disaster guidelines, and the Supreme Court's recommendations, our struggle against the KKNPP (KNPP) will continue unabated."

The statement recalled Atomic Energy Regulatory Board's (AERB) Aug 10, 2012 clearance to KNPP for "first approach to criticality" (to begin the fission process in a nuclear reactor for the first time).

"The AERB is supposed to submit a report to the Supreme Court along with the NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd), MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) and TNPCB (Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board). Only the TNPCB has submitted its report with many rejoinders," said the PMANE's struggle committee.

"In a true democracy, the reports must be shared with the petitioner and with the larger public and must be debated openly and earnestly. But this AERB clearance defies the spirit of democracy...," the statement added.

According to the statement, KNPP is yet to comply with several important legal and safety measures such as CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearance for the desalination plants, effluent outlet pipes and so on.

"We have all the clearances including for the desalination plant," R.S. Sundar, site director, KNPP, told IANS.

India's atomic power plant operator NPCIL is setting up the project in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai, with two Russian-made reactors of 1,000 MW each.

The KNPP is an outcome of the inter-governmental agreement between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, construction began only in 2001.

Fearing for their safety in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima in Japan in 2011, villagers in the vicinity of the Kudankulam plant, under the PMANE banner have been opposing the project.

City-based environmental activist G. Sundarrajan had filed a case in the apex court demanding the KNPP be scrapped. The court dismissed the case in May and laid down 15 directions for the NPCIL, the AERB, the central and Tamil Nadu governments and the state pollution control board to follow.

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