Talks to break the logjam over the controversial Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project made no headway on Friday with protestors terming as “failure” the discussions with the Central government’s expert committee on the issue.
The 15-member panel on a three-day visit to the plant as part of efforts to allay people’s fears over safety aspects, also met the six-member State committee constituted by the State government on the Kudankulam issue in Tirunelveli.
“Our mandate is to talk to the forum (the six-member State panel) provided by the Tamil Nadu government. We cannot go on talking to the people in Tirunelveli district,” K. Balu, a Central committee member told reporters after the meeting, also attended by representatives from the protesters.
He said the project has “much more than what is necessary to ensure safety as far as environment and people are concerned.”
Mr. Balu said the committee sought to clarify questions raised by the protestors, who have been on a month-long fast in the second phase of their agitation, demanding scrapping of the Indi-Russia venture.
However, unhappy over the outcome of the talks, M. Pushparayan, one of the leaders spearheading the stir claimed the Central committee was neither interested in removing doubts raised by them at the last meeting nor had the Central panel given the documents the protestors asked for.
“They gave only a 38-page report instead of giving the documents we asked. The report did not have any documentary evidence and so we will continue our protests and the two-hour talks ended in a failure,” he said.
The Rs. 13,600-crore project, whose first unit (1,000 MWe) was scheduled to be commissioned in December, has run into trouble following protests from locals who are demanding that it be scrapped on grounds of safety.
A.E. Muthunayagam, an expert in environmental science and oceanography and convenor of the Central committee, said the group had even planned presentations on six issues such as safety, radiation, cancer threat, possibility of incidents like Fukushima here, waste disposal and trends of nuclear energy.
“Our friends (the protestors) say we are not satisfied. We have not come here to listen to your lecture,” he said.
Asked whether the meeting ended abruptly, Mr. Muthunayagam said, “They took our report and went away.”
He said the committee would continue giving answers and clarifying issues and bring facts to the people. “We will see to it that some solution is reached.”
Making it clear there was no need for the committee to submit a report to the Central government, Mr. Balu said the panel was set up to allay the fears of the locals and would talk to the people, through their representatives.
Renowned oncologist and a member of the panel, V. Shantha said, “There is a lot of misconception on radiation. Lots of studies have been done even in Kalpakkam and other areas. There is no need for any fear or panic about radiation.”