STEPS to operationalise the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tirunelveli district would continue uninterrupted as the Supreme Court on Monday disposed of a public suit seeking to halt its commissioning with a direction to the government to submit a report on the compliance of all safety steps before the plant is commissioned.
However, an apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra issued detailed directions to the government on the safety and the monitoring of the plant’s operations.
Reacting to the judgment, M Pushparayan a key leader in the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) told IANS in Chennai: “It is a delayed and unjust judgment. It will not bind us and our protest against the project will continue.”
Speaking over phone from Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district he said: “It is discouraging that the court seems to have not considered important issues like the substandard equipments used in the reactor; Coastal Regulation Zone stipulations; spent fuel storage; conduct of proper mock drill for the locals while deciding on the case.”
While allowing the commissioning of the plant, the court said that nuclear energy is extremely important for the country’s growth and a balance has to be struck between the right to life and sustainable development.
“The KNPP will not even satisfy the power requirements of Tamil Nadu or even Kerala,” Pushparayan contended.
The court said that various expert groups have opined that there would be no impact on the life around the plant because of radiation.
While concurring with the directions and the commissioning of the plant, Justice Dipak Misra said that the larger public interest should prevail over the minor inconveniences that may be caused to the people.
Directing the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to take all the steps for ensuring the safety of the plant, Justice Misra said in the case of nuclear power plants, there should not be any lapse in operations and the grammar of their safety has to be different.
According to Pushparayan around 25 school children submitted a petition to the Tirunelveli district collector to shut down the nuclear plant due to its substandard equipment.