The nuclear establishment has decided to intensify its public outreach programme around Koodankulam to allay concerns on the safety of the upcoming nuclear power plants,as it awaits a political resolution of the problem arising out of public protests at the site.
Some senior officers of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and the Department of Atomic Energy have reached Koodankulam to assess the situation at the site where two 100-MW nuclear reactors are being set up with Russian help. One of these was scheduled to start operations by December and the other six months later.
We are pained by the developments because every single procedure has been meticulously followed,safety has been assessed and reassessed,regulatory clearances have been taken,and best technologies have been installed. And now,questions are being raised on our credibility. This is demotivating for the entire community of nuclear scientists, said N Nagaich,Executive Director of NPCIL.
The only thing we can do right now is to strengthen our efforts in explaining local populations about the project. Incidentally,Koodankulam was one site where we had received near total cooperation from the local inhabitants. We will redouble our energies and reach out to more people. There is no concern on safety of the plants and the people must not have any misgiving on this issue, he said.
The schedule,which had already been under stress because of some non-technical reasons,is most likely to be upset because of the protests. Start of operations for unit-I in December seems highly unlikely as of now,though no official is ready to admit it as yet.
Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office V Narayansamy said the situation would be clear only after the Prime Minister returns from his visit to the United Nations and resolves the issue.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa,who had asked the Centre to halt the ongoing work at the site till peoples concerns were fully allayed,has decided to send a delegation led by her Finance Minister to meet the Prime Minister to discuss this issue.
We are now waiting for the Prime Minister to come back. Only then the next course of action can be decided, Narayansamy,who had traveled to Koodankulam and met the protestors,said.
Meanwhile,with the elections to the local bodies in Tamil Nadu having been announced,the government is hoping that it would divert some attention away from the protests on Koodankulam. There is also the expectation that the protests would fizzle out on its own once the elections are over. Narayansamy,incidentally,had said that competitive politics by local political groups was complicating the situation in Koodankulam.