The Centre on Thursday set up a 15-member experts group for interaction with the local people in and around the Kudankulam nuclear power plant project as part of an exercise to allay their apprehensions about the project.
The panel consists of experts from a range of disciplines, including radiation safety, reactor safety, oncology, fisheries and nuclear waste management.
Three of its members are former officials of the Department of Atomic Energy — retired Director (operations) of Heavy Water Board, W. Stephen Aruldoss Kanthiah, and retired Directors of Reactor Group and Nuclear Waste Management Group at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), S.K. Mehta, and K. Balu.
Three other well-known nuclear experts — retired Director of Division of Radiation Safety at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency M.R. Iyer, the former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, S.K. Sharma, and Raja Ramanna Fellow at the Safety Research Institute at Kalpakkam S.M. Lee — are also part of the committee.
In addition, two cancer experts — Chairperson of the Adyar Cancer Institute V. Shantha and Associate Professor and Surgeon at Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital C.S. Pramesh — and two experts in the field of fisheries — Director, School of Life Sciences at VELS University, Chennai, N. Sukumaran and Professor at the Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, A.K. Pai — figure in the panel.
The other members are: Vice-Chancellor, Nurul Islam University, Nagercoil, A.E. Muthunayagam (expert on oceanography), retired Professor of Mangalore University M.N. Madhyastha (expert on thermal ecology), Professor at the National Geophysical Research institute, Hyderabad, Harsh K. Gupta (earthquake expert) and D.V.R. Murthy of IIT, Madras, and Kannan Iyer of IIT, Bombay (experts in the field of mechanical engineering safety research).
A press release from the Department of Atomic Energy said the panel would interact with officials of the State government as also representatives of the people in the neighbourhood of the project. “The group will explain the factual position on various aspects of the project and dispel apprehensions of some sections of the local people.” The Tamil Nadu government, it said, would be requested to provide “an appropriate” platform where the panel could meet its officials and spokespersons of the neighbourhood identified by the State government and deliberate on issues raised, such as seismicity of the area, impact of a possible tsunami on the plant, and fears regarding the impact on fisheries, and radiation in the environment.
The plant, which is in an advanced stage of completion, ran into trouble following protests from people in the area over concerns regarding its environmental impact and fears of radiation leakages, in the wake of the Fukushima incident in Japan earlier this year.
The stalemate over the plant continues despite hectic efforts by the Centre to convince the people in and around Kudankulam on the safety of the project.
Blaming the Centre's “inaction” for the stalemate, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa had recently stated that her government was firm on suspension of work on the project till all the concerns of the people were addressed fully.
The plant, with two 1,000 MW reactors, is being built with Russian collaboration.
Protesters reject panel
Tirunelveli Staff Reporter reports:
The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has rejected the experts' committee formed by the Centre.
According to M. Pushparayan, member, anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project protest committee, construction activities at the project site were yet to be stalled as per the resolution adopted by the Tamil Nadu Cabinet. Hence, the struggle committee would decide on meeting the Centre's committee only after the government's move in this regard. “Moreover, the Central committee does not have representatives from the State government and the struggle committee. So we'll take a final decision only after waiting for the State government's reaction.”