Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy on Tuesday met those protesting for the past 10 days against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) and assured them that the safety and security of the people were paramount.
“People's safety first and power generation comes later,” he told them at Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district.
Mr. Narayanasamy was deputed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to meet the agitators and allay fears in the minds of people that arose after the Fukushima radiation disaster in Japan in March.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written to Dr. Singh about the need for the Centre to address these apprehensions.
Mr. Narayanasamy, on his way to Kudankulam from Madurai, had a preliminary discussion here with Collector R. Selvaraj along with Chairman of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Shreyans Kumar Jain to ascertain the situation at Idinthakarai.
Emerging from the meeting, the Minister told journalists that the safety and security of those living close to the project site was more important than power generation. To break the impasse and arrive at an early solution, a meeting between the protesters and the Prime Minister could also be arranged, said Mr. Narayanasamy.
The Minister plans to meet Ms. Jayalalithaa in Chennai on Wednesday.
Additional Secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy A.B. Joshi; Director (Projects), NPCIL, K.C. Purohit; Site Director, KKNPP, M. Kasinath Balaji; Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, V. Varadharaju; MPs S.S. Ramasubbu and S. Thangavelu; and Superintendent of Police, Tirunelveli, Vijayendra S. Bidari participated in the meeting.
When revenue officials invited the protesters' representatives to meet Mr. Narayanasamy in the evening, the public at the protest venue turned down the proposal, saying they could not send their representatives within 10 minutes and instead the Minister should meet the protesters at the fast venue.
As the Minister came to the venue later, he was not allowed to speak. Instead, coordinator of the protest S.P. Udhayakumar submitted a memorandum to Mr. Narayanasamy, which stated that the KKNPP, which was established “without getting public opinion, without holding proper field tests and environment impact assessment trials, should be scrapped”.
The Minister assured the public that their appeal would be considered as “the people's safety comes first and power generation later.”
Asked whether he would recommend halting of the work at the KKNPP, Mr. Narayanasamy said it would be decided by the Prime Minister.
Though the protesters could get this assurance from the Minister, they plan to continue their agitation as they complain that the State government had not extended a proper invitation for talks to end the agitation and thereby bringing back normality in the hamlets around Kudankulam.
Representatives of the protesters have decided to meet Ms. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday.