Koodankulam: Centre`s expert panel to meet today

The Centre`s expert committee has been set up to allay fears of locals over the controversial Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant.

Chennai: The Centre`s expert committee, set up to allay fears of locals over the controversial Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant, will meet on Monday.

This will be the first time that the Centre`s 15-member expert panel is meeting after anti-KNPP activists announced setting up of a 21-member committee, comprising scientists and others, to interact with state and central officials besides advising them on the future course of action.

"It`s a good thing. When they have an expert panel, it will be easy for both of us to discuss and debate matters on technical grounds," a member of the Centre`s expert panel said.

The meeting comes a day after former president APJ Adbul Kalam vouched for the safety of the Indo-Russian joint venture.

Backing the nuclear project, Kalam, who visited the plant at Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district, had said it was "safe" and was needed for development of Tamil Nadu`s economy.

"The plant is safe in all aspects. There is no need to worry about the safety aspect of the plant, as it is in a low frequency seismic zone. There is also no threat of a tsunami as the plant is 1,300 km away from the seismic centre point. Besides, the plant is 13.5 metres above sea level," he said.

However, his views were rejected by the locals.

His visit came amid the continuing stand-off on the Rs 13,600 crore project, whose first unit was scheduled to be commissioned in December.

Officials said the agitation by locals against the project has upset the scheduled commissioning.

Kalam, on a mission to allay fears about the safety of the plant, had also held discussions with scientists and engineers of the KNPP and Nuclear Power Corporation chairman SK Jain.

The project has run into trouble following protests from locals who are demanding scrapping of the project, citing safety concerns in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.