Rejects petition for restraining authorities from running MAPS

The Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition seeking to restrain the authorities from running the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS units I and II) at Kalpakkam in Kancheepuram district, without first implementing the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL)’s task force report and the AERB committee report of 2011 and obtaining environmental clearance for the power station.

The petitioner M. Vetriselvan, an advocate, said following an earthquake in Japan in March 2011, the Japanese government tried its best to control the spread of radioactive leak. Despite its efforts, there was low level of radiation. Following this incident, the NPCIL had constituted four task forces to review the consequences in the event of a similar incident occurring in India.

Recommendations

The task force submitted an interim report in March 2011 in which it made 12 short-term and eight long-term recommendations.

Similarly, the AERB had also constituted a committee in March 2011 to review the safety aspects of nuclear power plants operating in the country. It submitted its report in August the same year. As per the report, the practice of storing spent radioactive ion exchange resins in underground tanks should be discontinued as there could be a radioactive leak following an earthquake or flood.

The Additional Solicitor General of India P. Wilson submitted that MAPS had proposed an action plan to implement the recommendations of the task force and the committee in a phased manner.

Compliance reports on actions taken were being submitted to AERB regularly. As regards storing spent fuel, the facility was being operated strictly as per the AERB guidelines.

The First Bench comprising the Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan said the petitioner proceeded on the footing as if everything was not in order, whereas the NPCIL’s counter, coupled with the information obtained by the petitioner himself by invoking the RTI Act, would disclose that the safety measures were in place and were being implemented to ensure the proper functioning of the MAPS I and II units.

‘Ensure safety mechanisms’

The court hoped that in the event of any unforeseen mishap or disaster, all rescue measures would be in place. It directed the authorities to ensure that all safety mechanisms were put in place for any eventuality.

In view of the NPCIL’s stand, along with the material placed before the court, the Bench said it was of the opinion that the petitioner’s apprehension was unfounded. Therefore, no positive direction could be issued.

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