Talks to end logjam over KNPP make no headway

On a three-day visit to the plant as part of efforts to allay people's fears over safety aspects, the 15-member central panel met a six-member committee constituted by the state government on the Koodankulam issue here.

"Our mandate is to talk to the forum (six-member state panel) provided by the Tamil Nadu government. We cannot go on talking to the people in Tirunelveli district," K Balu, a central committee member told reporters after the meeting, also attended by representatives from the protestors.

He said the project has "much more than what is necessary to ensure safety as far as environment and people are concerned." Balu said the committee sought to clarify questions raised by the protestors, who have been on a month long fast in the second phase of their agitation, demanding scrapping of the Indo-Russian venture on grounds of safety.

However, unhappy over the outcome of the talks, M Pushparayan, one of the leaders spearheading the stir, claimed the central committee was neither interested in removing doubts raised by them at the last meeting nor had the central panel given the documents the protestors asked for.

"They gave only a 38-page report instead of giving the documents we asked. The report did not have any documentary evidence and so we will continue our protests and the two-hour talks ended in a failure," he said.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district, which is close to achieving criticality, has been facing road blocks due to agitation with local activists stopping the employees from entering the plant. The Rs 13,600-crore project, whose first unit (1000 MWe) was scheduled to be commissioned in December, has run into trouble following the protests from locals.

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