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)

No plan to dump nuclear waste at Kolar: Narayanasamy

In the Prime Minister’s Office the Union Minister of State V Narayanasamy said that Nuclear waste from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) will not be stored in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) in Karnataka.

Queried by reporters about Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) planning to store the nuclear waste from KNPP in KGF, Narayanasamy refuted claims that the waste would be sent to Kolar Gold Fields.

Citing discussions with K.H. Muniyappa, member of the Lok Sabha representing Kolar, and also with officials of his department, Narayanasamy stressed that nuclear waste would not be taken to Kolar.

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is protesting the setting up of two 1,000 MW nuclear power units at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, around 650 km from here, has charged that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has not shared basic information on storage of spent fuel from KNPP at KGF.

SC refuses to stop fuel loading in Kudankulam plant

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the fuel loading of the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam. The apex court will hear the matter on next Thursday. Earlier on the day, hundreds of people from Tamil Nadu’s Idinthakarai village, the epicentre of the protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), stood in the sea water to give expression to their anger at moves to load uranium fuel in one of the two reactors.

Buffeted by the sea waves, the villagers say they will carry out their ‘jal satyagraha’, or peaceful water protest, till 6 pm.

“We will stay in the sea, we will protest against the loading of uranium fuel in one of the reactors. No one can stop us from protesting,” Immaculate, one among the many agitators standing in waist-deep sea water, said.

Forming a human chain in the sea, the villagers from around the Kudankulam nuclear plant followed a similar ‘jal satyagraha’ in Madhya Pradesh against the Omkareshwar Dam on the Narmada.

“Any kind of satyagraha where people (willing to) take their lives is not an ordinary protest. It is a non-violent appeal to the powers that be and the power holders who must really listen to people,” social activist Medha Patkar told a TV channel.

“I think even the Constitution says that people’s consent is necessary. Forcible eviction in the name of progress  for development or power is absolutely not understandable and it is not justifiable,” she added.

Emphasising that KNPP should not be pushed, she said: “Talk to the people, hold dialogue until they are convinced of not only safety… but all issues of economical, social and politics related to nuclear powers.”

On Wednesday, protestors ended their 48-hour relay fast in Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli district to protest police use of teargas shells and batons to disperse crowds and the constabulary conducting house-to-house searches.

The over one year-long protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power project turned violent Monday, leaving one agitator dead in police firing in Tuticorin district and several injured in a police baton charge.

India’s atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian help at Kudankulam since 2001.

Villagers under the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) banner have opposed the project for the past one year, fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan March 2011.

Three days ago, Madhya Pradesh government agreed to give land as compensation and reduce the height of Omkareshwar Dam, as the protestors in Khandwa district stood in neck-deep water from Aug 25 to block the dam work.

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.

Anti-Kudankulam protestors to fast from May 1 onwards

Upset with the Tamil Nadu government for going back on its assurances, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) Monday announced that it would resume an indefinite hunger strike from May 1 against the two 1,000 MW plants at Kudankulam.

“We have decided to go on hunger protest once again from May 1 onwards as the state government has gone against its assurances given to us. A large number of women will be participating in the hunger protest,” PMANE leader M. Pushparayan told over phone from Idinthakarai, a fishing village near the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).

“When we concluded our earlier hunger strike on March 27 this year, the state government had agreed to release our comrades from prisons unconditionally and withdraw all false cases.

“It also agreed to institute an independent national committee to study the hydrology, geology and oceanography issues, conduct of disaster management and evacuation exercises to all the people in the 30 km radius from KNPP,” Pushparayan, who is also convenor of the Coastal People’s Federation, added.

According to PMANE, the state government had also agreed to share a copy of the inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia (the reactor supplier) signed in 2008 on nuclear liability; divulge information on the nuclear waste and its management and respect people’s right to protest against the project in a democratic manner.

In a statement issued, PMANE said: “Almost a month has passed after this negotiation, but no promise has been fulfilled so far.”

“More than 56,000 people have been charged with false cases until Dec 31, 2011 including some 6,000 sedition cases. If we tally the cases that have been filed in the first quarter of 2012, the number must be way too high. This only proves how big our struggle is and how undemocratic and anti-people our governments are,” it stated.

Those who have been released on bail are made to sign daily at distant police stations thereby preventing them from going to work, PMANE said.

According to PMANE, the issue of seismology should also be studied in detail as the entire state of Tamil Nadu and the eastern coast of India were rocked by tremors and temblors following an earthquake in Indonesia this month.

India’s nuclear power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building the KNPP at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu around 650 km from Chennai.

Work at the project had come to a standstill last year after villagers in the area, fearing for lives in case of nuclear accident, mounted an intensive protest.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier passed a resolution asking the central government to halt work at the plant and to allay the fears of the locals.

To resolve the issue, the central and state governments set up two panels.

The central panel submitted its final report Jan 31. The Tamil Nadu government set up another expert committee which too favoured the project.

Last month, the state government gave its green signal to the project and also announced Rs.500 crore for local area and infrastructural development.

Following that, work at KNPP was restarted with police protection.