Activists brief Jayalalithaa on Kudankulam risks

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Wednesday assured a delegation from the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), who briefed her about the risks of the Kudankulam nuclear power project, that she would go through their report, said an activist present at the meeting.

"Madam (Jayalalithaa) was very cordial and listened intently to our submissions. The meeting lasted around 20 minutes. She did not ask us to withdraw the agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project," R. Ramesh, part of the four-member PMANE team that met the chief minister here, told IANS.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, PMANE coordinator S.P. Udayakumar said: "She gave us a patient hearing. We told her that the state panel gave a one-sided report. We invited her to visit us."

"We submitted our expert committee report rebutting the conclusions of the report submitted by the central government-appointed panel headed by A.E. Muthunayagam on January 31," he said.

PMANE's meeting with Jayalalithaa comes a day after the state government-appointed four-member experts panel submitted its report the contents of which are still under wraps. However, the panel has already said the reactors are safe.

Ramesh also told IANS that the chief minister was told about the volcanic hazard in Kudankulam area and that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) did not look into the geological issues.

"We told Madam that NPCIL did not do any volcanic hazard study. We told her that there is a possibility of Kudankulam terrain being a karst (collapsible soil hazard) terrain," Ramesh said.

He said the areas around KNPP have experienced small volcanic eruptions in 1998, 1999, 2001 and in 2005 and the nearest eruption occurred just 26 km away from the project site.

According to him, Jayalalithaa was also told about the risk of the reactors facing dry intake due to tsunami risk - lack of sea water for desalination when the sea recedes.
The four-member PMANE panel also requested Jayalalithaa to visit Kudankulam and Idinthakari villages.

India's nuclear power plant operator NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW atomic power reactors with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli, around 650 km from Chennai.

Villagers in Kudankulam, Idinthakarai and nearby areas fear for their lives and safety in case of a nuclear accident.

Their agitation, led by PMANE, has put a stop to the project work, delaying the commissioning of the first unit originally slated for last December.

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