In a morale boost for the outgoing UPA-II, the Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a petition to stall commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu and expressed satisfaction at the steps taken by the government to ensure safety standards.
A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Vikramjit Sen also nixed a plea to appoint a committee to review the safety measures and to further examine as to whether the directions issued by the court in its May 2013 verdict were being properly implemented or not.
The bench refused to issue any further directions at this stage after examining the responses filed by the government, Nuclear Safety Corporation of India Ltd, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Tamil Nadu government, allaying the apprehensions raised in the petition by activist G Sudarrajan.
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It noted that authorities had taken adequate steps towards storage of spent nuclear fuel, transporation of such fuel, heat control, disaster management and other pertinent issues. “After perusing the various affidavits filed by the respondents, we notice that the directions given by this court are being properly addressed by the respondents and there is no laxity on the part of the respondents in not carrying out various directions of this court,” it noted.
The bench added that for implementation of all its directions, the authorities will require some more time. “We are sure that the respondents would make earnest efforts to give effect to all the directions of this court in letter and spirit. At the moment, we find no reason to give any further directions,” it said.
The court had in May last year given its go-ahead to the government while directing it to comply with a set of safety measures before commissioning the plant. These directions were compartmentalised in short-term and long-term measures.
The petition, argued by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had demanded an injunction against commissioning of the plant, alleging that AERB “hurriedly” granted clearance for proceeding with it. The petition claimed that the AERB had on July 4 given a clearance for commissioning of the nuclear plant without satisfying itself that all the requirements had been complied with as per the court’s directives.
Bhushan had contended that the government and its various authorities had used sub-standard equipment and were hence facing problems in cabling and instrumentation. He also claimed that the authorities were yet to decide where the spent fuel permanent repository would be located. Subsequently, the bench had sought counter affidavits from all the authorities concerned to indicate their compliance with the court’s directives.