Kudankulam: In the areas surrounding what is meant to be India's largest nuclear
project, and in the Supreme Court, protests about the safety of the
plant are taking new shape.
The Kudankulam plant is due to open within weeks and will provide 2 gigawatts of electricity - enough to power millions of Indian homes and
relieve a power crisis in Tamil Nadu.
The government's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board last month gave
clearance for fuel to be loaded into one of the Kudankulam plant's two
reactors, one of the last steps before it can begin producing power.
The Madras High Court vetted that decision last week. But a case filed
in the Supreme Court alleges that safety basics have been ignored at the
Indo-Russian joint venture.
Lawyer lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan has asked for an urgent hearing
tomorrow. His case alleges that the government has absolved the Russian
company that is supplying the nuclear reactor from any liability in
case of an accident. The petition states that "the Government has also
brutally cracked down on the local community peacefully protesting
against the plant and has slapped sedition cases against thousands of
protestors. Thus it is absolutely clear that the Government intends to
push the project through without any consideration of safety, costs,
environmental impact and other concerns regarding the project."
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde yesterday said that the huge ground
protests are being fuelled by foreign NGOs, an allegation first leveled
by the Prime Minister in February
In the village of Idinthakari, the epicentre of the local movement
against the nuclear plant, 10,000 men, women and children spent the
night in the open. Many of them are on a relay hunger strike; they say
the nuclear plant will contaminate the water, putting fishermen out of
work. They are also worried about radiation leaks. Some villagers
claimed that the police last night vandalized a local church, where an
idol of Mary was found broken. The police say its men did not enter the
Around 4,000 security personnel, including Rapid Action Force, have been deployed in the area.
Yesterday, one man was killed and many others jumped into the sea in
this part of coastal Tamil Nadu when the police tear-gassed
demonstrators to prevent them for marching to the Kudankulam nuclear
Villagers and fishermen have rejected government assurances that the
plant meets international safety standards and will be able to withstand
natural disasters. Activists cite the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in
Japan last year to highlight concerns about radiation leaks should a
tsunami hit the area.
India is struggling to meet surging demand for electricity and suffers
from a peak-hour power deficit of about 12 per cent, which has become a
significant drag on the economy. A grid failure on two consecutive days
this summer caused one of the world's worst blackouts.
( with inputs from Agencies)
Story first published:
September 11, 2012 15:29 IST