Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday gave its nod to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), clearing the decks for the fuel loading and commissioning of unit 1 of the controversy-hit Indo-Russian project.
Dismissing a batch of petitions challenging commissioning of units 1 and 2 of KNPP, a division bench comprising justices P Jyothimani and M Duraiswamy said the project did not suffer from any infirmity for want of any clearance from any authorities.
"There is absolutely no impediment to proceed in units 1 and 2 of KNPP," the bench said in its order, which was keenly awaited for loading the real fuel in the 1,000 MW unit 1.
The court also said the Union and Tamil Nadu governments shall oversee the plant continuously and take steps to protect the interests of the people and fishermen in the area.
Besides undertaking awareness schemes, the state government should establish a multi-speciality hospital and schools with hostel facilities for locals and children, give financial assistance for the fishermen in the area to have mechanised boats and provide port and cold storage facilities to store fish catch.
The Collector of Tirunelveli, the district in which plant is situated, should ensure off-shore safety drills regularly involving the public, it said.
Another bench comprising justices P Jyothimani and P Devadoss dismissed a petition challenging the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)`s clearance for loading real fuel in the plant.
The bench said, "It is not for the court to suspect the statutory authorities, until a classic case is made out...The court does not have expertise to suspect the statutory authorities` opinion."
It also said that all the 17 safety recommendations made by the Task Force should be implemented as committed and the "nuclear loading can go ahead."
The AERB had recently given its approval for loading the real fuel in the first reactor of the plant, taking the project a step closer to commissioning.
The commissioning of the first of the 2 x 1,000 MW units of the Indo Russian project was slated for December last year, but protests by local people on grounds of safety concerns delayed it.
Reacting to the verdict, People`s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) convenor S P Udayakumar, spearheading the protest, said, "It is one-sided and against the people, who are struggling for the past one year in a democratic way. Injustice has been done and we will appeal in the Supreme Court."