The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to restrain the Centre from loading fuel into the nuclear power plant at Koodankulam after the government said it was a very initial stage and that it will take at least two more months to commission the plant after the loading process is complete.
In Koodankulam,hundreds of protesters took part in the jal satyagraha demanding immediate closure of the plant.
Noting that there had been no stay on the project at any stage by any court,a Bench,led by Justice K S Radhakrishanan,turned down the request by petitioners counsel Prashant Bhushan,who contended that fuel loading was the penultimate step of commissioning of the plant and this might cause irreparable damage to his case.
The courts refusal came after Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman,counsel for the plants operator,Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited,submitted: Loading of the fuel is a very initial stage. It is merely one of the steps out of several processes. It is supposed to get over by September 16. But even after loading the fuel,it will take at least two more months to commission the plant.
The Bench made it clear to the Centre that safety standards and public interests are of paramount concerns and that lives of people living in the vicinity must be protected. It expressed displeasure with the views of the Madras High Court,which had refused to interfere with the operation of the plant on the ground that Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has given a go ahead to the project. The HC says once a statutory body has given a nod,that is the end of the matter. It is not appropriate and cannot be accepted, said the Bench,while hearing an appeal against the HC order by petitioner G Sundarrajan.
During the hearing,Bhushan claimed that the authorities had failed to comply with the 17 recommendations made by an AERB expert committee following Japans Fukushima nuclear disaster. Accepting that safety measures must be put in place,the Bench sought a reply from the Centre,which was represented by Attorney General G E Vahanvati,SG Rohinton Nariman and ASG Mohan Parasaran. They denied that it was essential to comply with all the 17 recommendations before operationilising the plant,contending these were additional set of safety measures besides the necessary ones,which are already in place.
The Bench posted the matter for September 20.