PM singles out US-based NGOs for idle Kudankulam

Minister of State in the PMO says govt findings based on probe

PM singles out US-based NGOs for idle Kudankulam

 Five months after all work at the 1,000 MW first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant came to a grinding halt, the Centre for the first time came down heavily on US-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for making the reactor sit idle.

“The atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don’t appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in an interview to an American science magazine.

A day after the publication of the prime minister’s interview, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayansamy blamed three NGOs for diverting foreign funds for the anti-nuclear campaign at Kudankulam. Narayanasamy, however, did not identify these NGOs, but said that the government’s findings were based on investigations. When quizzed by Deccan Herald, officials of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd refused to comment on the identity of these organisations.

“These NGOs were receiving foreign funds from the US and Scandinavian countries for social service causes like helping the physically handicapped and eradication of leprosy but these were used for anti-nuclear protests,” Narayansamy said, adding that the organisations violated the guidelines under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

The government took action after it found that the NGOs spent huge amounts of money on the anti-Kudankulam agitation. “In fact, the people who are agitating near the plant have been continuing their agitation for the past three months. People are being brought there in trucks from various villages, they are being given food,” he said, emphasising that the prime minister’s comment was based on an official inquiry.

Scientists back view

Scientists at the Department of Atomic Energy (DoAE) echoed the prime minister and his junior minister’s view. “Few people are behind the ploy and they playing with the sentiments of the poor. They were poor and simple people who were influenced by one to two tonnes of food a and few hundred rupees. They are being exploited,” said Prabhat Kumar, project director at Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam, a public sector undertaking in the DAE, reponsible for building the prototype fast breeder reactor.

“Since the locals have no knowledge of nuclear energy, they believe in everything,” Kumar said at a symposium on nuclear energy here on Thursday. “The agenda of the anti-nuclear groups is not to get convinced,” he added.

Trouble at Kudankulam began in August 2011 and work came to a standstill by October. The Central government’s effort to communicate to locals and protesters through an experts panel did not yield any result.

A second experts panel has now been constituted by the Tamil Nadu government to break the deadlock.

The Centre has squarely blamed the NGOs for misleading the people and fomenting trouble at the site, preventing operationalisation of the reactor imported from Russia.

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