Protesters' demand for copies of vital documents turned down

The third round of talks between the Central Experts Team on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) and the protesters' representatives in the State panel failed on Thursday and the relay fast against the upcoming nuclear power programme is still going on at Idinthakarai.

The anti-nuke protesters hoisted black flags in their hamlets on the coastline of Tirunelveli to express their dissatisfaction over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow to ink the deal on constructing the third and the fourth reactors each with 1,000 MWe capacity at Kudankulam. Moreover, relay fast for three days is being observed since Thursday as the Prime Minister is on a 3-day tour to Russia.

The protesters' representatives M. Pushparayan and M.P. Jesuraj, while rejecting the experts' replies to their earlier queries as “inadequate and factually wrong,” were determined to get copies of vital documents relating to the KKNPP and holding a meeting between the experts of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and the Central Team. Both the demands were turned down summarily, which led to the failure of talks held on Thursday.

The next round of talks between the two teams may take place if the Centre asks its experts' team to meet the PMANE's experts and gives copies of the documents as demanded.

Emerging from the 150-minute-long meeting held at the Collectorate since 11 a.m., Mr. Pushparayan said that since the Centre's Experts Team expressed its inability to provide the copies of “some vital documents,” the protesting people's “genuine fears” could not be addressed effectively. “If the Centre's experts are not prepared to meet the protesting people and cannot provide us the documents, they should at least meet our team of experts,” said Mr. Pushparayan, who handed over a 70-page questionnaire to the Central experts. He, through Collector R. Selvaraj, also submitted a petition to the Central experts seeking permission to inspect the reactors by PMANE experts.

However, convener of the Central team A.E. Muthunayagam rejected this demand saying that they had been told to hold talks with the State panel to allay the fears of the people. “If the Centre wants us to talk (to the experts of the protesters), we'll speak to them. We're open for talks with anyone,” said Dr. Muthunayagam while claiming that there was progress in the talks.

He once again reiterated that 2 X 1,000 MWe VVER reactors at Kudankulam were safe with state-of-the-art redundant safety features and there was no chance for accidents. The oceanography specialist said there was no violation in the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms.

“Since the Central experts team has effectively responded to all the queries raised by the protesters, now they are diverting their attention by raising the fears of undersea volcanic activity,” Dr. Muthunayagam said. Team member C.V.R. Murthy from Indian Institute of Technology – Madras said the KKNPP would not be affected by the mild “volcanic activity that lies off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.”

Concluding his remarks, Dr. Muthunayagam said that only maintenance activities were going on at KKNPP. “If this situation is allowed to continue, it will badly affect the healthiness of the hi-tech equipment installed.”