Protesters keen on classified info, not N-safety

alyan Ray
Last Updated : 04 January 2012, 09:10 IST
Last Updated : 04 January 2012, 09:10 IST

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The anti-nuclear protesters at Kudankulam appear to be interested more in accessing classified government information rather than nuclear safety, though they cite safety as the reason behind their agitation.

“The protesters are asking for copies of the inter-governmental agreements between
India and Russia as well as drawings and design details of the 1,000 MW Russian nuclear plant, which is proprietory information and cannot be shared,” Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) said on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress here.

Banerjee also foresaw Kudankulam as an industrial hub like Tarapur.

The AEC chairman said while the department of atomic energy gave paramount importance to nuclear safety and was open to discussions and debate on safety issues, there were certain areas, which should remain purely within the government and could not be shared.

In fact, the 15-member expert group set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also expressed their inability when the agitators asked for the inter-governmental agreements, issues related to India’s position in the Nuclear Safety Group, setting up of a possible weapon facility at Kudankulam, liability issues of India and Russia and KKNPP’s impact on India’s bilateral relations with other countries.

While the expert group spoke to the local and state government representatives on the safety of Kudankulam nuclear power plant and possible health consequences, if there are any, the agitators seem to be looking for more classified information, he said.

The next round of meeting between the expert group and agitators is scheduled around Sankranti, which falls around January 14-15. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India has shifted the likely date of operationalising the first unit at Kudankulam to May 2012 and the second unit to February 2013.

Banerjee said Kudankulam had the potential to grow as an industrial hub in the future a la Tarapur, if the protestors end their agitation and allow the functioning of India’s two largest nuclear power plants. Tamil Nadu is slated to receive 925 MW of power out of the 2,000 MW generated by the first two units of the Kudankulam nuclear power project.
Forty years ago, Tarapur was a sand dune and did not grow even a blade of grass. But with nuclear power, it has emerged as Mumbai’s shubrub and an industrial town, said Banerjee foreseeing similar future for Kudankulam.

The AEC chairman agreed that following the agitation in Kudankulam and Jaitapur that delayed commissioning and construction works respectively in these two sites for imported reators, the DAE has scaled down its ambitious target of achieving 20,000 MW of installed capacity by 2020.

India’s projected capacity stands at 10,080 MW by 2019-20 taking into account operationalisation of all reactors under construction. If any new foreign reactor – apart from the two units in Kudankulam – becomes operational, the capacity would go up to merely 11,080 MW.

Published 04 January 2012, 09:10 IST

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