Kudankulam Protesters Demand White Paper

Chennai, Nov 12 (IANS): Citing divergent views on the safety features of the Russian reactors being set up at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, a group protesting the nuclear power project Saturday reiterated its demand a white paper on it.

"Different authorities are voicing various views. The other day, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam certified the reactors are totally safe," M. Pushparayan, member of the state committee of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and convenor of the Coastal People's Federation told IANS.

"The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) said additional safety features for all reactors including the ones at Kudankulam is being considered. We want a white paper on the Kudankulam project," he added.

India's nuclear power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam, 650 km from here.

The first unit is expected to go on stream in December. The project is estimated to cost around Rs.13,160 crore (approximately $2.6 billion).

The villagers fear for their lives and safety in case of any nuclear accident and the long-term impact it would have on the population.

The project work has come to a standstill since last month as the agitators intensified their protest by blocking roads leading to the nuclear power project site.

On Friday, AERB Chairman S.S. Bajaj said a committee had recommended having additional safety measures of mobile power source and water source for emergency cooling of reactors across the nuclear power plants in the country including the ones being set up at Kudankulam.

Bajaj's statement came within five days of Kalam's visit to Kudankulam and certifying the reactor's safety in a 39-page report after considering all the aspects including the backup safety features of the plant.

At a time when the government has been citing the former president's safety certificate in its attempts to allay the fears of the public, the AERB statement comes as a shot in the arm for the anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) movement.

Not wanting to be drawn into any debate, V. Ponraj, advisor to Kalam and the co-author of the Kudankulam reactor safety report said: "The Kudankulam reactors have all the essential safety features which we have detailed in our report."

"There can be no limit for additional safety measures," he added.

Concurring with him, an NPCIL official said: "We have read the AERB report. It has suggestions and not recommendations."

NPCIL officials agreed that the atomic energy establishment should talk in one voice and communicate one clear message at this point of time, than giving space to various speculations.

Meanwhile, the relay fast protest at Idinthakarai village near Kudankulam entered its 26th day Saturday.

Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy told reporters at Tiruchendur, around 600 km from here that he wondered what was the source of funds for PMANE to carry out the agitation.


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