The Supreme Court on Monday directed that all criminal cases against the agitators opposing the Kudankulam nuclear plant be withdrawn to restore normalcy in the area.

Giving a series of directions, a Bench of Justices K. S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said: “Endeavour should be made to withdraw all the criminal cases filed against the agitators so that peace and normalcy be restored at Kudankulam and nearby places, and steps should be taken to educate the people of the necessity of the plant which is in the largest interest of the nation particularly the State of Tamil Nadu.”

“Ensure periodic inspections”

The other directions issued by the Bench are: Maintaining safety is an ongoing process not only at the design level, but also during the operation for the nuclear plant. Safeguarding the plant and radioactive materials is of paramount importance. NPCIL and AERB, the regulatory authority, should maintain constant vigil and make periodic inspections of the plant at least once in three months and if any defect is noticed, the same has to be rectified forthwith.

“NPCIL shall send periodic reports to AERB and the AERB shall take prompt action on those reports if any fallacy is noticed in the reports. The Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) generated needs to be managed in a safe manner to ensure protection of human health and environment from the undue effect of ionizing radiation now and in the future, for which sufficient surveillance and monitoring programmes have to be evolved and implemented. AERB should periodically review the design-safety aspects of the storage site at KKNPP so that there will be no adverse impact on the environment due to such storage which may also allay the fears and apprehensions expressed by the people.”

It said: “A Deep Geological Repository has to be set up at the earliest so that SNF could be transported from the nuclear plant to DGR. NPCIL says the same would be done within a period of five years. Effective steps should be taken by the Union of India, NPCIL, AERB, AEC, DAE etc. to have a permanent DGR at the earliest so that apprehension voiced by the people of keeping the NSF at the site of Kudankulam NPP could be dispelled. NPCIL should ensure that the radioactive discharges to the environmental aquatic atmosphere and terrestrial route shall not cross the limits prescribed by the Regulatory Body. The Union of India, AERB and NPCIL should take steps at the earliest to comply with rest of the 17 recommendations, within the time stipulated in the affidavit filed by the NPCIL on 3.12.2012.”

Disaster preparedness

Further the Bench said: “NPCIL, AERB and State of Tamil Nadu should take adequate steps to implement the National Disaster Management Guidelines, 2009 and also carry out the periodical emergency exercises on and off site, with the support of the concerned Ministries of the Government of India, Officials of the State Government and local authorities. NPCIL, in association with the District Collector, Tirunelveli should take steps to discharge NPCIL Corporate Social Responsibilities in accordance with DPE Guidelines and there must be effective and proper monitoring and supervision of the various projects undertaken under CSR to the fullest benefit of the people who are residing in and around KKNPP.”

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