HC dismisses petition against NPCIL on tender process

madras-high-courtMadras High Court has dismissed a petition against Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for amending its tender notification, barring participation of joint ventures in the tender process for construction of buildings housing reactors, on safety grounds.

The court had yesterday dismissed the petition filed by Shapoorji Pallonji and Company, challenging a corrigendum issued by NPCIL on June 2 last, barring participation of Joint Venture Association (JVA) of private companies in the tender process.

The petitioner had submitted that they hold major shares in AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd, which was its subsidiary and that it was unfair on the part of NPCIL to have amended the May 9, 2016 tender.

The original tender permitted JVAs to participate in the tender process for the Rs 1,904.60 crore project, the petitioner added.

NPCIL claimed the notification had ‘inadvertently’ stated that JV’s are also eligible to apply for the project.

But a high-level committee of NPCIL had on May 26 decided to issue the corrigendum in view of the critical aspects of the project, it said.

NPCIL said AFCONS Infrastructure had time to submit an individual tender, but had not done so.

The court said, “It is not made clear as to why the subsidiary company did not participate in the tender process and why the petitioner company is insisting on considering the experience of the subsidiary company.”

“The petitioner’s company wanted to achieve indirectly what it could not achieve directly,” the court observed and dismissed the petition.

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)

Plea on Kudankulam project filed in Delhi High Court

A plea was filed in the Delhi High Court against the department of atomic energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) for not sharing details related to Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu under the transparency law, a petitioner said Saturday.

The plea was filed Friday for allegedly not abiding with an order of the Central Information Commission to share the site evaluation report (SER) and the safety analysis report (SAR) relating to the Kudankulam project, said the petitioner.

“The CIC had ordered NPCIL to share the SER and SAR by May 25. But till date the SAR has not been shared. The NPCIL gave me some sheets of paper said to be executive summary of SER. Hence this petition,” S.P. Udayakumar, petitioner and coordinator of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), told IANS by phone from Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district.

In April this year, the CIC ordered the NPCIL to release the SER and SAR by May 25 and upload both the reports on its website.

According to Udayakumar, both the reports did not relate to either national security or anything protected under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The reports related to geography, environment, meteorology and geology and have a huge bearing on public health and safety, he said.

While the NPCIL shared the SER with Udayakumar, it appealed to the CIC to modify its April 30 order on the grounds that it was holding the SAR in a fiduciary capacity for the Russian equipment supplier and also that due notification procedure was not followed.

The NPCIL is building the power project at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here, with Russia supplying the entire equipment for the reactors and other related systems.

The Madras High Court is also expected to pronounce its decision on a batch of cases against the project.

The government Wednesday told parliament that the first unit of the project was scheduled to be operational by October. The two 1,000 MW units of the project were initially scheduled to be completed in December 2008.

Court frowns on ministers over Kudankulam launch date

With the protest against Kudankulam nuclear power plant entering its second year, the Madras High Court hearing two petitions against the project Thursday came down on union ministers, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

“Hearing the two petitions, the Madras High Court came down heavily on the union ministers, saying that they respect only the Supreme Court and not the other courts. The court also asked how central ministers can announce KNPP (Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project) commissioning date when a case is being heard,” P. Sundararajan, a lawyer.

P.Sundararajan is junior to advocate M. Radhakrishnan representing G. Sundarrajan who has filed two petitions in the court challenging the consent given by the AERB and the TNPCB to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) that is building the plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here.

According to Sundararajan, the court also wondered why the AERB was in a hurry to clear fuel loading.

“The AERB gave its nod to NPCIL to load the fuel in the first reactor last week without ensuring the implementation of safety measures in the KNPP as recommended by an expert committee set up to review the safety aspects of Indian nuclear power plants in the wake of nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan,” Sundarrajan told IANS about his petitions.

He said the AERB had earlier submitted to the court in another case that it would issue clearances only after completion of review and resolution of reactor commissioning reports and issues relating to the KNPP, including the implementation of safety measures after the Fukushima accident.

Sundarrajan contends that the AERB has not applied its mind on the consent order issued by the TNPCB on the tolerance temperature limits for the KNPP effluent before giving its clearance for loading of the fuel in the plant’s first unit.

According to him, the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, state that thermal power plants using sea water should adopt systems to reduce water temperature at the final discharge point so that the resultant rise in the temperature of receiving water does not exceed seven degrees Celsius over and above the ambient temperature.

The TNPCB, in its consent order, allows the tolerance temperature limit of trade effluent of the KNPP at 45 degrees Celsius while the Comprehensive Environmental Impact
Assessment for the KNPP units 1 and 2 and additional units 3 to 6 has limited the tolerance temperature to 37 degree Celsius, he said.

Interestingly, the central government-appointed expert committee in its report last December said that the seasonal variation in surface water temperature of Kudankulam Marine Environment ranged from 23 degrees Celsius during monsoon and winter to 29 degrees Celsius during summer, with an annual average of 26.6 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the protest against the two 1,000-MW atomic power plant entered its second year Thursday with anti-nuclear activists stating that their fight was now two pronged — on the streets and within the portals of the Madras High Court.

“Our fight is on two flanks — civil/democratic and legal. We have been protesting against the project in a non-violent manner for the past one year. Now public interest petitions (PIL) have been filed in the Madras High Court. The court has reserved its decision on one, and two more cases have been filed,” said M. Pushparayan, a leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMAN), said.

He said fishermen in Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts did not go into the sea Thursday to express solidarity with PMANE and a huge crowd had gathered in Idinthakarai to attend an anti-nuclear power conference