Kudankulam panels may not meet third time



Chennai: Members of a central team are an exasperated lot after failing to convince a Tamil Nadu government-appointed team that the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is indeed safe.

Talks between the two sides have virtually failed, and members of the central panel see no sense in having another round.

"You can wake up a sleeping man but not one who is pretending to sleep," former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) chairman SK Sharma said.

"I don't think there will be another round of meeting. But if the central government thinks we (need to), then we will continue to (talk)."

Sharma said they were finding it difficult to convince people with preconceived views.

Widespread protests have been held against the two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors the Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building with Russian technology in Kudankulam, around 650 km from Chennai.

Villagers fear for their lives in case of a nuclear accident and the long-term impact a disaster would have on the population.

Their protests have put a stop to the project work, delaying the commissioning of the first unit by several months.

In order to allay the fears of the public, the central and the state governments formed the two committees.

The first meeting took place on November 8 when members representing the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), spearheading the protest, submitted questions and asked for copies of the inter-governmental pact signed between India and Russia and a white paper on the project.

The PMANE activists are part of the state panel.

"The central committee members sat late in the night to prepare the answers. At the end of the meeting, many felt hurt at the attitude of the activists," an NPCIL official said on the condition of anonymity.

A central panel member said they were even ready to make a presentation to the state panel on the safety features, but the activists were unwilling to hear them out.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting Friday, AE Muthunayagam, convenor of the central panel, said people's fears were unfounded and had no scientific basis.

IANS