Chennai, Sep 19 (IANS): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Monday urged Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh to stop further work on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) till the fears of villagers are cleared while charging his government of abdicating its responsibilities in clearing the apprehensions of the people.
In a letter to Manmohan Singh, copies of which were released to the media, Jayalalithaa said: "You are aware that the nuclear power plant at Koodankulam is ready to be commissioned very soon. The last few days have been very agonizing for the people of Koodankulam as they are under great apprehension in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and other similar calamities reported in the press. It is only natural that the people living here fear for the safety of their families and for themselves."
According to her, an issue relating to the project is "disturbing the normal life of the people in the Koodankulam area."
"The scope and magnitude of this issue is creating a fear psychosis among the people and villages surrounding Koodankulam. It is surprising to note that till date, no responsible minister or concerned higher authority from the government of India has visited the people or even attempted to assuage their misgivings," the letter notes.
"It is unfortunate to see that the centre is abdicating its responsibilities. The prime minister should have sent a high level team to allay the fears and misgivings of the people in the Koodankulam area," Jayalalithaa charged in her letter.
She also complained to Manmohan Singh about union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan of "abdicating her duties as a minister and absolving herself of any responsibility".
When queried by the media about KNPP, Natarajan had said the subject comes under the purview of the Atomic Energy Commission and her ministry has nothing to do with it.
Noting that the Atomic Energy Commission is under Manmohan Singh's direct control, Jayalalithaa urged him to send the concerned officials to hold discussions with the people of Koodankulam, address their fears and convince the people to their satisfaction.
"Since nobody from the government of India has so far deigned to visit Koodankulam, I propose to send an all-party delegation led by Thiru O. Panneerselvam, Honourable Minister for Finance, Government of Tamil Nadu, along with representatives of the people to call on you," Jayalalithaa's letter notes.
In a media statement issued here, Jayalalithaa appealed to leaders of like-minded parties and the fasting protestors to sign a memorandum and join the delegation that would meet the prime minsiter.
Jayalalithaa also appealed to those on fast to call off their protest taking into account her government's actions on this issue.
Over 125 people are fasting since Sep 11 to demand closure of the 2X1,000 MW power plant being built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) with Russian help in Tirunelvelli district around 650 km from here.
On Sep 16 Jayalalithaa said the nuclear power plant is located in a place where there is no probability of an earthquake. The reactor is built 7.5 metres above the sea level and will not be damaged even by a tsunami.
Jayalalithaa then said that she held detailed discussions with the officials of NPCIL who explained to her the safety features of the plant.