Suggests Rs. 200-crore plan to win villagers over to Kudankulam

Even as a committee constituted by the Centre to address fears about the safety of the Kudankulam nuclear power project was set to meet an experts panel of the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday, the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has recommended a massive Rs. 200-crore special development plan for villages around the project site.

The 15-member central panel, consisting of experts in various disciplines including radiation safety and reactor safety, and the State government committee, including the Tirunelveli Collector and the Superintendent of Police, will discuss the local people's apprehensions at the Collectorate.

After a visit to the plant on Monday, Mr. Kalam certified that the Kudankulam plant was totally safe. Turning his attention to the local economy around the project area, Mr. Kalam and his associate, V. Ponraj, have now come out with a 40-page report in Tamil, dealing with the plant's safety from a technical point of view, but also containing a 10-point programme to boost economic activity and upgrade infrastructure and amenities in the area.

Suggesting that it be titled ‘Kudankulam PURA' (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) scheme, Mr. Kalam said four-lane roads should be laid to connect villages in a radius of 30 km with highways leading to Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Madurai. Industries should be started in locations between a 30-60 km radius around the project site with direct employment potential for 10,000 people. Self-employment loans, with a 25 per cent subsidy, should be extended to young entrepreneurs.

Housing projects should be created for the coastal people, including multi-storeyed tenements, community halls and playgrounds, along with infrastructure. Fishermen should be given mechanised boats, jetties, fish processing and cold storage facilities. The local people should be supplied one million litres of drinking water a day after desalinating seawater.

A 500-bed hospital of global standards, mobile diagnostic facilities, five schools with hostel facilities, broadband connectivity for all villages, a disaster management centre, and facilities for imparting coaching for selected students from these villages to help them pursue higher education were the other suggestions.

While extending all these facilities, the villagers' fears about the project should be allayed, and all information they needed to know should be given, he said. , adding the Kudankulam project should be implemented with their full cooperation.

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