Jaya gives nod to K'kulam N-plant

CM announces 500-cr package to mollify local area people

The seven-month long controversy over commissioning the 2000-MW Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district ended on Monday, with the Jayalalitha regime giving its nod for ''immediate commencement of all start-up works.''
File picture of the two reactors of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) situated at Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district. Tamil Nadu government on Monday announced that it has decided to make the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) operational at the earliest. PTI

At a Cabinet meeting here, Chief Minister J Jayalalitha resolved to permit the resumption of start-up operations in the Russia-aided project, in which 99.5 per cent of civil works of the first 1000-MW unit were completed, and 93 per cent works in unit II.

A State Cabinet resolution in September 2011 had asked the Centre to freeze all further work at KNPP site at Kudankulam until the local people’s apprehensions about its safety were dispelled, amid swelling protests against the plant under the banner of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE).

Explaining the rationale, Jayalalitha said in a statement that the go-ahead was given on the basis of the findings by the the central experts group appointed by the Department of Atomic Energy, and the state panel headed by former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman M R Srinivasan.

Both committees had observed that the KNPP was “safe in all aspects” in the wake of fears post-Fukushima disaster in Japan. The experts had also stated that the KNPP nuclear reactors had a lot more special safety features, that the local fishermen’s livelihood security would not be affected and that the plant’s design had taken care of extreme earthquake and tsunami possibilities.

Jayalalitha said the panel members have “elaborately replied to all the issues” concerning safety and related aspects raised by anti-KNPP protesters.

The chief minister cleared a Rs 500-crore assistance package. It includes setting up of cold-storage and boat repair facilities for the fisherfolk of Kudankulam and nearby coastal hamlets, bettering roads and building houses for them besides other infrastructure.

At the fasting site of Idinthakarai, where the relay fast under the anti-KNPP struggle committee leader S P Udayakumar entered the 217th day on Monday, the mood among the strikers was grim, amid rumours that he and his close aides could be arrested.

An unfazed Udayakumar told the media, “even if we are arrested, our agitation will continue until KNPP is closed down.”

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