Petitions challenge TNPCB and AERB orders

The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered notice to the Central government on two new writ petitions against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) — one seeking to quash a Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB)’s order of July 23 prescribing the tolerance limit of the project’s trade effluent and the other seeking to declare the AERB’s clearance for Initial Fuel Loading (IFL) as null and void.

In a petition filed through counsel M.Radhakrishnan, G.Sundarrajan of Vadapalani here, an electronics and instrumentation engineer said the TNPCB had passed a Consent Order on July 23 prescribing the tolerance limit of trade effluent to be 45 degrees Celsius.

The order had been passed in ignorance of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Units 1 and 2 and additional units three to six of the nuclear power plant.

The EIA said that the temperature of the effluent could never exceed 37 degree Celsius. If the first and second units are allowed to be commissioned based on the consent order, “there would be a grave danger to marine environment.” Consequently, fishermen families would be deprived of their fundamental right to life.

Mr. Sundarrajan said the consent order suffered from non-application of mind and arbitrary and violative of Art.14 of the Constitution. The EIA was done with a view to saving marine environment of the Gulf of Mannar. If the effluent temperature was 45 degree Celsius, there would be an imminent threat to fish population in the Gulf of Mannar and thousands of fishermen families of Radhapuram taluk and other places would be deprived of their right to livelihood.

In another petition, Mr.Sundarrajan said that the AERB had granted clearance for IFL and First Approach to Criticality of Unit-1 of the KKNPP on August 10. The AERB had grossly failed to exercise its power to review from the safety angle requests for commissioning of the Department of Atomic Energy in the manner it ought to have been exercised. The board should arrive at a decision to commission any nuclear power project only after appropriate review of commissioning reports and the results and of the operational experience in the light of the radiological and other safety criteria recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, International Atomic Energy Agency and other international bodies and adapted to suit Indian conditions.

The Bench orally asked how marine species could survive if the temperature of the effluent was 45 degree Celsius. It was a nuclear plant and it could not be treated on a par with other effluent treatment plants.

The court ordered notice on the petitions returnable by August 21.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National