Hyderabad: Regretting the protests against
the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu despite the
assurances over safety, two top nuclear officials on Monday said
shortage of manpower prevented full-fledged work being taken
up in the plant.
SK Jain, CMD of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd
(NPCIL) and Atomic Energy Commission Srikumar Banerjee told
reporters here on the sideline of a conference on nuclear fuel
that it was surprising that all questions about safety
of the plant were now being raised when they had already been
"Let me ask you a few questions...One, if you recall that
in past two, three or four months, there was talk that
Kudankulam site was not a proper site, it`s a volcano,
earthquake and tsunami-prone area. Then there was a question
about the safety of the reactors. There was a question
"Kudankulam construction has been going on smoothly and
in total harmony with the neighbourhood right from March 31,
2002. In the last 10 years, there was no doubt about the site,
absolutely no question raised about volcano. The same people
are staying there", Jain said.
He said post-Fukushima nuclear tragedy caused by tsunami
in Japan, there were lot of apprehensions. The PM was also
concerned and he ordered various measures. In Parliament, he
said safety of people is top priority.
"Coming to Kudankulam, everything was settled in April.
There were fears. There was tsunami, there was an earthquake.
We were totally successful in all the sides to give that
assurance that we will not compromise with safety. In April,
everything was ok and how come in Septmber, Fukushima
resurfaced? From 2002 onwards, no question, from April, no
question", Jain said.
"Third thing, everybody knows that we are not private
sector. We have absolutely no reason why we have to adopt
short cuts when we know for sure that even after retirement,
our liability is not reduced. Even if there is an iota of
doubt about safety, we cannot compromise", he said.
Noting that the agitation began flagging fears about
Kudankulam safety and after experts had allayed those fears,
he wondered why that issue is not raised now.
"Now, people are talking about no nuclear power.
Secondly, the questions are about reprocessing and our second
stage. Second stage, we reprocess thermal fuel, we produce
plutonium for our fast breeder reactor and also for
strategic purpose. That is under attack. For the last few
weeks, whatever is being talked about, there is no word on
Kudankulam safety. They are saying that we do not need nuclear
power and so why reprocessing", he said.
Asked if there was a conspiracy behind the anti-Kudakulam
nuclear project protest, Jain said "the answer is with you".
Jain said "we want to be leader in taking this nuclear
technology to use of thorium reactor. We are on that course.
May be next year, sometime 2014, 500 MW with plutonium will
start, we will be the only reactor which will be operating
fast breeder reactor with plutonium. So far, nuclear
technology has been the domain of only a few rich countries.
This is a developing country which will show the path to the
world.... Today in Kudankulam, it is the so-called
international green activists, lobbyists. Of course, some
element of local politics".
AEC Chairman S Banerjee said questions over Kudankulam
reactor safety, whether the plant affects the livelihood of
the residents, whether it is safe against any natural event,
whether the waste will be dumped in the sea or ground and
whether there is any prevalence of diseases like cancer in and
around a nuclear power station have been already answered even
by the expert committee.
Replying to a query, he said manpower shortage prevented
full-fledged work being taken up inside the plant. Only two
bus loads of personnel are allowed to attend to the work
inside the plant every day while the requirement is for couple
of thousand of employees to bring the plant into full
operation, he said.