Activists welcome KNPP panel

However, they oppose AEC ex-chief M R Srinivasan heading it

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) demanding the scrapping of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) on Friday welcomed the constitution of a new panel of experts by Tamil Nadu government.

The panel will take a re-look at locals’ fears and doubts about the KNPP. The PMANE, however, opposed Dr M R Srinivasan, former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chief, heading that committee. “We request the chief minister to replace Dr Srinivasan with another expert, as he is a well-known pro-nuclear power person and was also a member of the site selection committee in the 1980s for the KNPP,” the coordinator of the anti-KNPP protesters, S P Udayakumar said from Tirunelveli, where “PMANE” leaders met to take stock of the situation.

Stating that Dr Srinivasan could not be expected to be “neutral and independent” as he had already been speaking and writing in favour of the nuclear power project as former AEC Chairman, he said it was therefore hard “for PMANE to accept” the former’s leadership of the new panel.

The anti-nuke protesters also urged Chief Minister J Jayalalitha to expand the experts team by including specialists in the fields of geology, oceanography and hydrology to enable dealing with some specific KNPP-issues.

  The team should also meet with PMANE’s specialists members, consider their findings and “engage in a genuine dialogue with them,” urged Udayakumar. The new team members should also directly visit the project-affected villages and hamlets in the Kudankulam area “and arrive at a conclusion in a democratic manner on the basis of majority opinion,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, on the ground, a strong contingent of the Tamil Nadu Youth Congress led by Yuvaraja, began a “Padayatra” to Kudankulam on Friday in support of the KNPP and to meet the affected people directly to convince them on the need for this project in the wake of the severe power crisis in the state.

However, the MDMK led by Vaiko at its general council meeting here on Friday, backed the anti-KNPP protesters and said the 2000 MW nuclear power plant at Kudankulam built with Russian assistant should be unreservedly “shut down.”

Since a section of the Russian scientists themselves have expressed doubts about the technological soundness of the “VVER” type reactors imported from that country, the KNPP should not be started, the MDMK stressed in a resolution adopted at its meeting.

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