Protesters allow only two project officials to accompany the team during visit

The State Expert Team on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) visited nuclear reactors here on Saturday evening after the protesting anti-KKNPP group allowed only two persons to be with the experts while filtering top officials of KKNPP, including Site Director, KKNPP, M. Kasinath Balaji.

After holding a preliminary discussion with Collector R. Selvaraj at Circuit House here from 12.15 p.m., the expert team members M.R. Srinivasan, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission; D. Arivoli, Department of Physics, Anna University, Chennai; S. Iniyan, Professor and Director, Institute for Energy Studies, Anna University, Chennai, and L.N. Vijayaraghavan, former IAS officer, left for the KKNPP site around 3.15 p.m.

Speaking to reporters before leaving for the site, Dr. Iniyan said the committee would inspect the nuclear reactors to ascertain the safety features of VVER reactors being built with Russian assistance and hold talks with the members of the protesters' panel of experts on Sunday afternoon. “We'll submit our report to the government as early as possible and hence we'll be here till we complete our work satisfactorily,” said Dr. Iniyan.

Even as the Collector was holding discussions with the team members, the protesters, who blocked the road leading to the main entrance of the KKNPP site, compelled Mr. Kasinath Balaji, Station Director R.S. Sundar and eight others, who were actually waiting at the site to receive the team members and explain to them the salient features of the reactors, to leave the project site immediately. When they were leaving the site, their identity cards were checked by the protesters before being allowed to move further.

Left with no other option, the top brass of the KKNPP returned to their residential complex, Anu Vijay Township, around 2.45 p.m. and were waiting for the State Expert Team's arrival.

On the team reaching the township, eleven KKNPP officials, including Mr. Kasinath Balaji and Mr. Sundar, proceeded to the project site in a van even as the team members were travelling in their cars.

Meanwhile, Dr. Selvaraj persuaded the protestors' representative S. Sivasubramanian to allow the team members and the KKNPP officials inside the plant, but he said they would allow only the members of State Experts panel and not the KKNPP officials into the site.

When the van carrying KKNPP officials reached the Kudankulam police station, it was intercepted by the protesters, who allowed the cars carrying experts and vehicles of the Collector and District Revenue Officer B. Uma Maheshwari inside the plant and asked the officials to return to Anu Vijay Township as police did not come to their rescue. All eleven KKNPP officials returned to their residential complex again.

Since none other than the maintenance personnel was at the site to explain the salient safety features of the reactors to the experts, Ms. Uma Maheshwari sent a vehicle to bring Mr. Sundar and Manager, Human Resources, S. Anbumani, to the site.

They reached the site around 6 p.m. Only after their arrival, were the experts taken to the dyke, turbine building, first reactor building, desalination plant, stand-by generators and also to the place where the fresh fuel assemblies are kept.