KNPP protests' money trail unearthed

The Tamil Nadu police in Nagercoil have claimed that funds worth   Rs 12 crore were allegedly channelled to fuel protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) via four NGOs, now under Central scan, with help of German deportee Reiner Hermann.

 The sensational disclosure came amid the Centre stepping up its offensive against anti-KNPP protesters. A laptop seized from Hermann reportedly contains vital information and photos of the deportee’s movements.

 Hermann was sent back home from Chennai on Tuesday after cancelling his tourist visa. The state Q-Branch Police on Intelligence Bureau’s tip-off had tailed him for a month in Nagercoil, which uncovered his links with NGOs as part of a wide anti-nuclear campaign discretely on for some years now.

While the police cyber crime cell is deciphering data from Hermann’s laptop, the police are tight-lipped about the details, except that Hermann was under Central surveillance for quite some time now since the anti-KNPP protests swelled from September last, raising eyebrows over the activists’ source of funds.

As the anti-KNPP protest is identified with the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) led by S P Udayakumar, the latest developments have put the anti-nuke activists on the defensive in the run-up to the meeting with Chief Minister J Jayalalitha at Secretariat here on Wednesday. Three other PMANE members were also present.

 Udayakumar, after the meeting, reiterated that he had not received money from any foreign organisation or NGO and that the bank accounts of his family and himself were open to scrutiny. He brought papers along with his property details to show them to the chief minister. Udayakumar said he had “no idea” of the four NGOs whose bank accounts had been frozen after a police investigation into their activities.

The PMANE members’ meeting with Jayalalitha came just a day after a four-member State panel to study the safety and other aspects of the KNPP, headed by former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission M R Srinivasan, submitted its report to the government on Tuesday.

 Udayakumar said the PMANE team had expressed its concerns again over the KNPP’s safety. The Srinivasan panel’s report was based on “one-sided information” as the experts  talked neither to the group of scientists assisting PMANE nor with Kudankulam residents, he said.  

Concerns shared

The PMANE members also shared with Jayalalitha their dismay over Atomic Energy Regulatory Board members’ recent visit to the nuclear plant complex to start operations when, post-Fukushima disaster, international norms “require that volcanic hazard study” be conducted before commencing operations of any nuclear plant worldwide.

Udaykumar said the chief minister did not discuss with them the contents of the Srinivasan panel report. Nonetheless, under the dramatically changing circumstances in the last few days, Udayakumar beat a strategic retreat by leaving it to Jayalalitha to decide the next course of action. “We have given her all the documents about the KNPP; she assured us she will go through all of them and decide,” he said.   

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