Kudankulam expert panel to meet on Friday
The four-member expert committee to look into safety aspects of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu and address fears of locals about the project will meet here on Friday. The panel would visit Tirunelveli district and interact with district officials.
“We are meeting tomorrow (Friday). After that we will chalk our future course of action,” M.R. Srinivasan, a member of the committee and former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, told IANS. “The government has not specified any time frame… However, we would like to complete the task as early as possible,” Srinivasan added.
The other three members of the committee are two professors from Anna University, D. Arivu Oli and S. Iniyan, and retired IAS officer L.N. Vijayaraghavan. The government announced the formation of the committee Feb 9.
Queried about Russian ambassador Alexander M. Kadakin’s statement that Russian nuclear scientists at Kudankulam should not remain idle and were needed elsewhere, Srinivasan said it was an issue of concern.
“It would be unfortunate if Russian scientists go now. I hope they don’t take such a step. The Russian side is very cooperative. The scientists are of high calibre,” Srinivasan said.
India’s nuclear power plant operator, Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (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 any nuclear accident. Their agitation, led by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), has put a stop to the project work, delaying the commissioning of the first unit slated last December.
The Tamil Nadu government has urged the central government to halt work at the power plant and allay the fears of the people. To resolve the issue, the central and state governments had set up two panels.
The central and the state panels met thrice last year. The final meeting between the two panels slated for Jan 31 did not take place and the central panel submitted its report and declared that its job is over.
According to NPCIL officials, there are around 100 Russian scientists in Kudankulam and none of them are leaving for now. NPCIL officials told IANS that a consignment of components had been waiting for more than two weeks to be unloaded and the government was not giving permission for the vehicle to go inside the project site.
Protestors allowed about 100 KNPP maintenance staff to enter on Thursday after initial resistance.