A day after giving a thumbs up to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has suggested to the Centre a 10-point action plan for development of the area including creation of 10,000 jobs, four-lane highway and a world-class hospital.
Vouching for the project’s safety, Mr. Kalam, who visited the site on Sunday, said people should not have “even a nano-sized doubt” over the safety of the project, as it met all the four safety aspects — nuclear criticality, radiation, thermal hydraulic and structural integrity safety.
Construction of a four-lane highway connecting Kudankulam and villages 30 km around it with Madurai, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari, a world-class hospital with over 500 beds, mobile medical facilities to locals and creation of 10,000 jobs to people in the radius of 30 to 60 km and bank loans to youth with up to 25 per cent subsidy, have been suggested by him.
In his study report submitted to the state government, Mr. Kalam also suggested creating infrastructure facilities like construction of green houses, multi-storeyed housing complex, and playgrounds.
He said fishermen in the area should be provided with motorboats, small jetties and fish cold storage facilities.
Mr. Kalam, who prepared the report along with his advisor V. Ponraj, said efforts should be made to provide locals one million litre of drinking water through desalination process and water should be brought from Pechiparai reservoir in Kanyakumari district for agriculture and drinking water needs.
The report also suggested setting up of five CBSE and state government syllabus schools with hostel facilities, connecting all villages through broadband Internet, setting up of Disaster Protection and Management Centre and guiding selected youth to get permanent employment.
Mr. Kalam, a strong advocate of nuclear energy, said, “At the same time, efforts should be made to remove people’s fears by providing relevant information and with their full co-operation, the plant should start functioning as scheduled to enable Tamil Nadu to get 1000 MW power.”
Mr. Kalam’s report noted that government had formulated very stringent regulations on setting up nuclear reactors and Kudankulam can withstand even if Tsunami and an earthquake struck the plant together.
The site for setting up the reactor was selected after taking into account enough safety aspects and as per Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Code of Practice on Safety in Nuclear Power Plants. Hence, there was “no need for any doubts on the safety aspects” and Environmental Impact Assessment, it said.
Mr. Kalam further said that the 1.5 km radius around the plant was an exclusive sterilised zone and the site came within the project and there was no question of any displacement of habitants.
Contending that Tamil Nadu was free from seismic disturbances during the last 1000 years, he said the towers of Meenakshi Temple at Madurai and Big Temple at Thanjavur had not been affected by any earthquake.
Citing the historic Grand Anicut built by Chola emperor Karikalan in the first century AD, Mr. Kalam said if the king had thought that the dam would burst and destroy humanity, the dam would not have come up and so the present apprehensions on KNPP were unnecessary and unwarranted.
“We are all caught too much with the disease of fear and danger. History is not made by cowards. Sheer crowd cannot bring about changes. Only those who think everything is possible can create history and bring about changes,” he said in an apparent attack on the protestors.
He said there was no strength in the argument that even advanced countries like Germany had given up their nuclear power plants. Germany’s decision to close down their plants was based on the fact that its uranium deposits would exhaust by 2022. Besides, it had achieved “power independence” even without atomic power.
“Nuclear power is a God’s boon to human race and to make the best or the worst of it, totally lies in our hands,” he said, strongly batting for nuclear energy.