Kudankulam: Tuticorin bishop offers support

 “We are not in the forefront of the struggle, but we are in total solidarity with the people on this issue,” the Bishop, Fr Yvon Ambrosia, told Deccan Herald over telephone.
 The Diocese head disclosed that the Archbishop of Bombay had spoken to him and vice-versa, but refuted reports that the latter had given any diktat to the local church authorities to distance themselves from the people’s protests at Kudankulam and nearby villages, including Idinthakarai where the relay fast entered the 23rd day on Wednesday.
 Fr Ambrosia, though nominated as a member of the State-level panel to interact with the 15-member Central group of experts constituted by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to resolve the imbroglio, clarified that he did not attend the first meeting at Tirunelveli town on Tuesday.

 “I had clearly written to the District Collector that since I am neither a scientist nor a member of the Struggle Committee (SC) against KNPP, someone else may be co-opted in my place,” Fr Ambrosia said. That could preferably be from the 21-member group of experts announced by the SC’s coordinator S P Udhaykumar, or another member of the SC, he felt.

That 21-member panel, which includes veteran anti-nuclear activists like Praful Bidwai, is to assist the SC members in their assessment of the various issues concerning safety of the nuclear reactors at Kudankulam, and related issues.

 Nonetheless, “we are in support of the people till everything is clarified and all their fears are dispelled,” the Bishop said. He regretted that former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam did not meet the fasting people before announcing a development package for Kudankulam area. Dr Kalam should have taken the local people into confidence, he felt.
 Regretting attempts in some quarters to paint religious shades in this people’s struggle against KNPP after the Fukushima disaster, Fr Ambrosia said the experts should first come up with their replies to the questions raised by the people’s representatives at Tuesday’s meeting. “If the people are satisfied, that is the starting point for giving up the agitation,” he said.

A member of the Central team, on condition of anonymity, told Deccan Herald over phone that they hoped to finish the consultative process as early as possible. “People should understand that India’s safety record in operating nuclear power reactors in the last 40 years has been excellent in the entire world,” he said, hoping these facts would impact the protestors.

 “I don’t believe in dragging this issue as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is losing heavily for every day’s delay in the KNPP project implementation and we must find a solution soon,” the expert added.

Meanwhile, more than 100 anti-nuclear activists from different parts of the country have planned a ‘yatra’ from Madurai to Kudankulam on November 10, to express solidarity with the protestors there.

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