Koodankulam issue: Jaya takes fresh initiative

Chennai: In a fresh initiative aimed at breaking the impasse over the Koodankulam Nuclear power plant, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday announced that a panel of experts would be set up to look into the "fears and concerns" of the local population regarding the plant.

Jayalalithaa's announcement in the Assembly comes days after efforts by the Central expert group to resolve the issue hit a dead end with both the panel as well as the anti-KNPP activists ruling out further talks after four rounds of discussions.

Wrapping up the week-long session of the Assembly, Jayalalithaa said that at the last meeting (on January 31) between the Central group and representatives of the protestors, the former had submitted a report and said its job was over.

"Under these circumstances, the state government will constitute an expert panel which will look into the fears and concerns of the locals and submit a report soon," she said in her reply to the motion to thank the Governor for his address.

The state government would plan further action based on this report, she said.

Jayalalithaa's move was welcomed by SP Udayakumar of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), spearheading the over five-month long protest that has delayed the commissioning of the first unit of the Indo-Russian project.

On the power shortage situation, she slammed the previous DMK for doing "little" to enhance power generation and said various projects were progressing well and a capacity addition of 1950 MW would achieved by June this year.

Another 600 MW will be added by October and the state will be free of power cuts from mid-2013, she said, adding that an assistance of Rs 6,455 crore had been extended to the state electricity board to speed up projects.