Kudankulam protests end after Jayalalithaa assurance
against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu
was called off Wednesday following an assurance by Chief Minister
J. Jayalalithaa that the cabinet would pass a resolution taking
into account the fears of the people.
New Delhi: Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh Friday assured a multi-party delegation
from Tamil Nadu that a team of experts would be formed to allay
safety concerns over the Kudankulam nuclear plant. He also sought
support of Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa for implementing the key
Pushing for atomic power, Manmohan Singh wrote to Jayalalithaa:
"For a large and fast growing economy like ours, and given the
volatility and uncertainty of international energy markets, it is
in our national interest that we tap all sources of energy, and
diversify our energy mix."
Assuring safety for the nuclear project, he said in his Oct 4
letter that "nuclear energy is one option to enhance our energy
security. The central government will ensure that this is pursued
with full regard to the safety, livelihood and security of the
In the letter to Jayalalithaa, made public Friday, the prime
minister listed out safety measures and clearances obtained for
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, in Tirunelvelli district, about
650 km from Chennai, and stressed that he counted on her support
in its timely implementation.
The prime minister, an ardent advocate of nuclear energy, had
sealed the Indo-US nuclear deal.
He stressed that the government "will not compromise on safety in
the pursuit of our nuclear energy programme, whether it is in
terms of technology, regulation, skilled manpower or emergency
Acknowledging "understandable concerns" expressed about nuclear
safety after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, he assured
Jayalalithaa that his government attached the "highest importance
to ensuring that the use of nuclear energy in India meets the
highest safety standards."
He added that the government would "actively reach out to local
populations at different nuclear power sites and to other sections
of society to ally such fears".
Similar assurances were made when a team from Tamil Nadu,
comprising members from political parties, including the Congress,
and activists, called on the prime minister here Friday to discuss
their concerns over the safety aspects of the 1,000 MW nuclear
power plant that is being built with Russia's assistance.
"It was agreed that since the issues raised were technical in
nature and required in-depth discussion, the central government
would constitute a small group of experts to interact with the
representatives of the people of the region to satisfy all their
legitimate concerns," the Prime Minister's Office said in a
"This exercise would suitably involve the state government of
Tamil Nadu," said the statement.
"The prime minister agreed that the government will consider
sending a panel to discuss the safety of the Kudankulam nuclear
power project with the locals," Communist Party of India national
general secretary D. Raja told reporters after the meeting.
"The prime minister gave us a patient hearing," AIADMK MP V.
Maitreyan told reporters.
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O. Pannerselvam led the delegation,
which had members from the Congress, AIADMK and CPI and
representatives from Kudankulam, who demanded that the project be
halted till the concerns of the locals are addressed.
The meeting was attended by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
Chairman Srikumar Banerjee, National Security Adviser Shivshankar
Menon, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V.
Narayanasamy and NPCIL chairman S.K. Jain, among others.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two
1,000 MW-capacity nuclear power reactors with Russian technology
and equipment in Kudankulam. The first unit is expected to go on
stream this December.
The delegation presented two memoranda to the prime minister.
"The state government submitted its memorandum demanding stopping
of the project till the fears of the people were cleared. We
submitted a memorandum demanding scrapping of the project," M.
Pushparayan, convenor of Coastal People's Federation, told IANS.
There was some disagreement between NPCIL officials and the
anti-nuclear power plant activists, he said.
"We told them that we are here to present a memorandum to scrap
the project and not to listen to them," said Pushparayan.
He said the memorandum submitted by the anti-nuclear power plant
activists demanded scrapping of the project and sharing of the
environment impact assessment (EIA) report for the two reactors
"We have announced resumption of protest Oct 9. First we will
explain to the people about our meeting with the prime minister
and then decide our next course of action," he added.