‘What we need is awareness drive and not concern’

Coming out in support of the Union government, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Friday said the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu was safe and there was no need for people living in its surrounding areas to protest.

“There is no need for concern on any of the [nuclear] plants… not only Kudankulam but the Kalpakkam atomic power station, which too is located in Tamil Nadu, is also safe. The government has taken several safety measures and would continue to do so. I think there is need for some awareness [drive],” said NDMA Vice-Chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy.

Speaking to journalists after a day-long session on disaster management organised to mark the eighth foundation day of the NDMA, Mr. Reddy said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also heads the NDMA, and nuclear experts have repeatedly assured that the Kudankulam plant was safe and there would be no compromise on the safety standards of any of the nuclear plants.

The government has already announced a Rs. 500-crore development project for the areas surrounding the Kudankulam plant. There was no need for a campaign against nuclear power plants or to create panic among people. Instead, people should support such initiatives that would help growth and development in the country, Mr. Reddy noted.

On the NDMA’s preparedness to deal with a nuclear crisis, Mr. Reddy said: “We have asked all States, which have nuclear plants, to prepare a development plan for people living in areas near the plant. Karnataka is preparing one and other States will also come up with their own... funding is not an issue.”

Drills were being carried out in six States which have nuclear plants to make people aware about how to deal with any disaster. Mr. Reddy said Rs. 35,000 crore would be spent under the 12th Five Year Plan for strengthening various disaster management mechanisms in the country.