HC tells Tamil Nadu to drop cases against Kudankulam naysayers

madras hcThe Madras High Court Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to abide by the Supreme Court direction to withdraw cases filed against those opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).

The court, however, refused to stay the functioning of the power plant.

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which has been protesting against the project, welcomed the judgment and hoped that the state government would withdraw the cases soon.

City-based advocate P. Pugalenthi filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to know what action the state government had taken to comply with the Supreme Court direction to withdraw all cases filed against the protestors, so that peace and normalcy was restored.

The apex court said that after normalcy was restored, steps should be taken to educate the people about the necessity of the project, which is in the interest of the nation, particularly Tamil Nadu.

According to Pugalenthi, more than 300 cases have been filed by the Tirunelveli police against the protestors over a period of 650 days.

He said the number of cases is less than the actual number of people charged, as police clubbed thousands of people in a single case.

Reacting to the high court verdict, M. Pushparayan, a key person in PMANE, told IANS: “We welcome the court verdict. We hope the state government will withdraw the cases at the earliest.”

He said several cases had been filed against the protestors under the heads of waging war against the nation, and sedition.

“The KNPP is a civil nuclear power project. How can the police file cases for sedition and waging war against the nation against the protestors? For that matter, even the Tamil Nadu government has stalled gas pipeline and gas exploration projects in the state after farmers protested,” Pushparayan said.

India’s atomic power plant operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), is setting up the project in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai, with two Russian-made reactors of 1,000 MW each.

The KNPP is an outcome of the inter-governmental agreement between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, construction began only in 2001.

Fearing for their safety in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima in Japan in 2011, villagers in the vicinity of the Kudankulam plant, under the banner of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), have been opposing the project.

City-based environmental activist G. Sundarrajan filed a case in the apex court demanding that the KNPP be scrapped. The court dismissed the case in May and laid down 15 directions for NPCIL, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the central environment and forests ministry, Tamil Nadu government and the state pollution control panel.

(Source: IANS)

Atomic energy regulator yet to file Kudankulum report in SC

The Indian atomic energy regulator has not yet filS.P. Udayakumar,ed with the Supreme Court its report on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP, an anti-KNPP activist said Wednesday.

“In response to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) in its reply dated July 1 said: ‘The report would be filed by AERB in he Hon’ble Court before granting next stage of clearance for commissioning of the plant.’,” M. Pushparayan of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) told IANS.

The RTI application was filed by PMANE’s co-ordinator S.P. Udayakumar June 4, asking the AERB of action taken so far to fulfill a Supreme Court direction while giving its clearance to the KNPP in May.

The AERB did not give any time frame for granting the next stage of clearance for the KNPP.

The apex court May 6 directed that the AERB, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to oversee each and every aspect of the project, including safety of the plant, impact on environment, quality of components and systems in the plant before its commissioning.

The apex court had also directed the environment ministry to oversee and monitor whether the NPCIL is complying with the conditions laid down while granting clearance dated Sep 23, 2008, under the provisions of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Notification of 2006.

It was also to see that the conditions laid down in the environmental clearance granted by it Dec 31, 2009, were complied with.

“AERB and the ministry will see that all the conditions stipulated by them are duly complied with before the plant is made operational,” the apex court had held.

The MoEF had June 27 communicated to Udayakumar that the KNPP site visit is neither finalised nor submitted to any agency so far, and the decision is yet to be finalised.

A committee consisting of officials from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), NPCIL, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the TNPCB had inspected the KNPP May 5, 2013.

Only the state pollution control board has submitted its report to the apex court July 8, after issuing to the KNPP its consent to operate June 24.

In its consent order the TNPCB has stipulated that KNPP should connect its computer systems monitoring the ambient and plant effluent temperature to its network.

The pollution board has also asked KNPP to increase its green belt cover to 25 percent of its 1,050 hectares – 262.5 hectares – from the current six percent – 63.4 hectares.

The apex court had also directed the Tamil Nadu government to withdraw all the cases filed against the agitators so that peace and normalcy is restored.

In response to a public interest litigation filed by an advocate to know the action taken by the state government in complying with the supreme court’s direction in the Madras High Court, the Tamil Nadu government Tuesday had sought one week’s time to gather details of the cases filed against the protestors.

India’s atomic power plant operator NPCIL is setting up the project in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from Chennai, with two Russian-made reactors of 1,000 MW each.

The KNPP is an outcome of the inter-governmental agreement between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, construction began only in 2001.

Fearing for their safety in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima in Japan in 2011, villagers in the vicinity of the Kudankulam plant, under the PMANE’s banner have been opposing the project.

City-based environmental activist G. Sundarrajan had filed a case in the apex court demanding the KNPP be scrapped. The court dismissed the case in May and laid down 15 directions for NPCIL, AERB, MoEF, Tamil Nadu government and TNPCB to follow.

The project, however, had been delayed mainly due to non-sequential supplies of components from Russian vendors.

(Source: IANS)