Kudankulam activists seek answers on nuclear power project

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Kudankulam activists seek answers on nuclear power project
Chennai:  The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) on Monday decided to send a postcard to the Russian ambassador to India demanding a copy of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed between India and Russia paving the way for the mega power project.

In a statement issued on Monday, PMANE said, "Since we have not got a copy or any response from the Indian government, we have decided to ask the Russian embassy for a copy of the 2008 IGA on liability. People from southern Tamil Nadu would be sending a terse postcard to the Russian embassy in New Delhi."

According to PMANE, Article 13 of IGA clearly states that Russia will not be held liable for any accident at the Kudankulam nuclear power plants.

"The Indian government does not want to give a copy of the IGA to Indian citizens, or to the people around Kudankulam. We do not know what is so secret about it? What is the Manmohan Singh government hiding from its own people," PMANE said.

"If they secretly sign an agreement with Russians and do not want to show it to their own people, who are they being loyal to? Isn't this a seditious crime," PMANE questioned.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW reactors supplied by Russia in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli, around 650 km from here.

Work at the project came to a standstill last year after villagers in the area, fearing for their lives in case of a nuclear accident, mounted an intensive protest under the PMANE banner.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier passed a resolution asking the central government to halt work at the plant and to allay the fears of the locals before it gave its green signal for the project in March this year.

NPCIL is now hopeful of getting a clearance from the sectoral regulator to fuel the first reactor at KNPP.

"We had two detailed meetings with Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on Friday and Saturday. We hope to get a positive response from AERB by Saturday or Sunday," S.A. Bhardwaj, director (technical) told IANS.

According to him, NPCIL is not working towards any specific date like August 15 (Independence Day) to load the 163 fuel assemblies into the 1,000 MW light water reactor supplied by Russia.

"The loading may happen around Aug 15. It could be Aug 16 or 17," Bhardwaj said.

NPCIL officials told IANS that if the fuel is loaded in mid-August, power generation would start in September.


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