HC Asks why the state govt cannot hand over to CBI the probe into the police firing

Chennai: The Madras High Court today wanted to know why the state government cannot hand over to the CBI the probe into the police firing in Tuticorin during the anti-Sterlite protests in May which left 13 people dead.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice P T Asha directed officials to furnish by July 9 all documents and materials related to the violence and firing on May 22 and 23.

The bench was hearing a batch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the firing.
In his counter affidavit, Tuticorin Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha, submitted the investigation by the CB-CID was progressing in a fair and impartial manner and hence there is no need for a CBI probe.
He said the Supreme Court had observed on many occasions that courts must self-impose limitations while considering such pleas for CBI inquiry.

Rambha also submitted that besides the CB-CID probe, a one-man commission of inquiry, headed by retired High Court judge Aruna Jagadeesan, was also seized of the issue.
Additionally, the national and state human rights commissions were also probing the matter, the counter said.
Opposing the prayer for filing murder cases against revenue officials concerned (who issued the order for firing), he said they had acted pursuant to the lawful orders issued by the competent authority and in good faith for upholding public order.
During a previous hearing, the chief justice had orally observed that since the state police was involved, it was a fit case to be investigated by the CBI.

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