Economy

Kudankulam: ‘Foreign activists join locals in opposing project’

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018

jain

Foreign environmental activists have joined hands with locals opposing the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project (KAPP), alleged Dr S. K. Jain, Chairman and Managing Director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

He claimed that the recent protest at the KAPP was supported by environmental activists from the US, Australia, France, and Finland, who were present in villages around the project.

Interacting with the media on Friday on the sidelines of an event marking the 102nd birth anniversary of Dr Homi Bhabha, the founder of India's nuclear programme, Dr Jain said the foreign activists along with a splinter group of Tamil Nadu-based anti-nuclear activists were creating all the trouble. All the activists were receiving foreign funding in abundance, he added.

NPCIL is building two reactors based on Russian technology at KAPP, which will produce 2,000 MW of power. Nuclear fuel was to be loaded in the first reactor by September and the reactor was supposed to produce power by December. However, since July, KAPP has been facing protests from local villagers, who have been demanding that the project be scrapped due to the safety concerns.

Dr Jain said recent evacuation drills carried out by NPCIL and stipulated by the National Disaster Management Authority, had created an element of suspicion in the villagers' minds. Rumours had spread that the drills were not safety drills but a ploy to displace people staying within a 5 km radius of the project. “This sentiment was used by these environmental activists and exploited for their ends,” he added.

Dr Jain also alleged that some of the churches in the area were participating in the agitation.

Currently, nuclear fuel has not been loaded in the first reactor but a Hot Run — an important process before the actual commissioning of the plant — has been carried out. The activists are demanding that the plant be shut down completely until the fears of the locals is addressed.

Dr Jain said the reactor is not like a Maruti factory that can be switched off and on depending on the requirement. “The nuclear plant system once started cannot be shut down. The plant was ready for loading of nuclear fuel in September but due to a blockade by the villagers, it could not be carried out. Due to the road blockade we have not been able to maintain all the systems and it could damage the plant,” he warned.

Dr Srikumar Banerjee, Secretary to the Department of Atomic Energy, told mediapersons that he would soon meet, Ms J. Jayalalitha, Chief Minster of Tamil Nadu, and work out the modalities and a time schedule for the engagement of an expert panel with the local representatives, who have been protesting against the plant.

A 15-member panel consisting of experts in nuclear power and oceanography has been constituted by the Union Government to allay the fears of the villagers.

> rahulw@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 28, 2011

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