Chennai: Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam`s visit to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) and his 10-point development programme for the area has brought about a change of heart among those protesting the project, says S.S. Ramasubbu, the Congress MP from Tirunelveli constituency of Tamil Nadu.
However, he says KNPP officials are keeping aloof from elected representative like himself.
"The visit of Kalam and his 10-point programme for the development of Kudankulam and neighbouring areas have certainly resulted in a change of heart among people in Kudankulam and other villages. His words carry weight," Ramasubbu told reporters on phone.
Four-lane highway, a mega desalination plant, construction of houses, schools, hospitals as well as cold storages are among the `developmental cluster missiles` for Kudankulam and surrounding areas that India`s missile man Kalam suggested to the central government soon after his Nov 6 visit to KNPP.
After verifying for himself the safety features of the Russian reactors, Kalam who visited the plant Sunday certified they are safe and people need not nurture even a nano-sized particle of fear.
However, he is sore with KNPP officials.
"The officials keep aloof. My requests to KNPP officials to inform me whenever their chairman visits the project site also went unheeded. While the leader of the anti-KNPP movement S.P. Udayakumar was taken around the plant by officials, I was not given the same courtesy. I don`t understand this. I have visited the project as part of some other delegation," Ramasubbu fumed.
This despite Ramasubbu being from the same constituency where the power project is being set up and also being a member of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Science and Technology.
"I have spoken in favour of the project in the parliament and also at the meetings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee," he said.
"After the accident in the Japanese nuclear plant in Fukushima, I met the prime minister and spoke about the safety of the project. The prime minister assured that necessary action will be taken to ensure the project`s safety," he added.
Ramasubbu does not agree that people are against industrialisation of the region - such as the spiking of the Tata Group`s titanium project in Tirunelveli and the ongoing agitation against KNPP.
"It is the activists who have created such an impression. The people want industries to come here. The state government should also take active interest in locating industries in Tirunelveli district," he said.
According to him, the non-employment of the local people in KNPP in sizeable numbers is also a major reason for people to turn against the project as they do not have any stake.
While agreeing that it was difficult to sustain an agitation for nearly two months only on the strength of movement leaders, Ramasubbu declined to comment on the factors that make it possible.
"There are various theories going around. Without knowing the truth, I will not be able to comment," he said.
He said the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) is organising a protest Nov 11 to open the KNPP.