Those opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) are taking an extreme position, regretted M.R. Srinivasan, Member, Expert Panel on the Project constituted by the State Government.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu here on Tuesday, he opined that their stand was unreasonable. Adverting to the move of the anti-KKNPP struggle committee to rope in fishermen and organize a strike on March 15, he lamented, “It is unfortunate that innocent fishermen are being misled”.
One should be on guard against attempts to rouse the passion of the people and designs of certain sections of the society to make India abandon its nuclear energy facilities. Such fringe movements are all over the World.
Stating that the public sympathy which was witnessed during the early days of the protest was wearing off on account of the acute power shortage, he said that both the expert group of the centre and the expert panel of the State have gone into all aspects vis a vis safety of the KKNPP. The reactor is of an advanced design with several safety features.
Averring that a Fukushima like situation is unlikely to occur at Kudankulam, he said that the latest safety features have been incorporated.
When asked to elaborate, Dr. Srinivasan said that the Fukushima Nuclear Plant had some inherent design weakness. As early as 2001 or 2002 a warning vis a vis threat to the reactor from Tsunami had been conveyed and the need to strengthen safety measures stressed by the Nuclear community.
Pointing out that the total number of nuclear reactors in the World now was 340, he said that many of them are located in coastal areas. There have not been any adverse effects on fishing activities on account of them. Stating that 20 reactors are in operation in India, he said that the oldest was in Tarapore which had come into being 42 years ago. A special feature of the Kalpakkam reactor was that it was equipped with a fish diverter. Observations of Atomic Energy scientists showed that fishermen faced no problems from both Tarapore and Kalpakkam.
Welcoming the views being expressed by various political parties on the KKNPP, he said that for the past several decades successive governments in Tamil Nadu have extended their cooperation to the Centre in matters relating to Nuclear energy.
In the use of power from KKNPP Tamil Nadu will always have a larger claim. While one reactor can be commissioned now, one more can be put into operation next year. There is enough space to put up four more.
Dr. Srinivasan added that power interruptions have always been minimum in Tamil Nadu. The present crisis should not be allowed to worsen. Regrettably even in a place like the Nilgiris which has always taken power for granted, there are now power cuts, power holidays etc.
When asked about the opposition to his inclusion in the expert panel expressed by the anti-KKNPP struggle committee, he said that their fears of bias are unfounded.
Efforts should be made through outreach programmes to enhance awareness about the benefits of scientific thinking. It will help shield the people from superstition.
On the report submitted by the Panel to the government, he said that it is up to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to take a decision.