Activists and experts under the platform of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament & Peace (CNDP) have termed the Supreme Court’s go-ahead to the controversial nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu “shocking” and “absurd”.
Arguing that the verdict will go down in history as one of the “black” judgments of the Court, Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said: “It is an unfortunate and a terrible judgment which shows the establishmentarian mindset of the SC judges, accepting whatever the Government presents, especially in the context of this mindless rush towards nuclear energy.”
The apex court in the first week of this month gave a green signal to the commissioning of the largest nuclear power plant of the country arguing that in order to “sustain rapid economic growth, it is necessary to double the supply of energy. Energy tariff is also increasing, and nuclear power in the long run will be much cheaper than other forms of energy”.
Mr. Bhushan underscored that transgressing from the actual prayers in the petition, the apex court completely overlooked brazen violation of official safety norms by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. He also countered the logic of cheaper energy through nuclear power. Mr. Bhushan said nuclear power was the “most expensive” way of producing electricity as “there are large number of hidden costs in producing electricity through nuclear power which the court didn’t take into account.” He said the apex court also did not take into account that the AERB was not an independent body as it was just a part of the Department of Atomic Energy.
Kumar Sundaram from CNDP highlighted that the petitioners, concerned at the huge negative impacts of the power plant, had approached the apex court, highlighting serious issues such as recent scams allegedly involving Russian Company ZiO-Podolsk’s supply of sub-standard equipment to nuclear power plant at Kudankulam and violation of the AERB’s reactor sitting norms.
In their petition, the concerned groups had also raised the non-compliance with the 17 post-Fukushima safety recommendations by a special AERB committee, besides undermining of several processes of Environmental Impact Assessment and Coastal Regulatory Zone clearance and flouting of the mandate for evacuation exercises and emergency preparedness drills, Mr. Sundaram added. While delivering the verdict the Court “sidestepped all these violations and virtually affirmed all the myths we have been contesting all along. If you read the SC judgment it is like the violation has not taken place at all,” he added. Criticising the judgment, eminent journalist and founding member of CNDP Praful Bidwai also demanded time-bound implementation of the 15 cautionary guidelines proposed by the apex court, especially the one regarding the withdrawal of bogus cases against those involved in the movement against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.