September 20th, 2011
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Koodankulam: Narayanasamy to convince protestors

koodankulamChennai: Senior Minister of State in the PMO, V Narayanasamy has been appointed by the Prime Minister to resolve the rising protests against the Koodankulam nuclear power project as per the insistence of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa. He is to hold talks with the locals in a bid to end their indefinite fast, which entered the tenth day, in protest against the nuclear plant.

Before leaving for Koodankulam, he met State Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi and elicited his views. “We know that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha has urged the centre not to go ahead with the project until an ‘amicable solution’ is found. Over a hundred fishermen and environmentalists have been on a fast against the plant,” he said.

“All safety measures in the plant are intact. We are hopeful that we will be able to convince the people and allay their fears over the plant,” he added.

The nuclear plant is being set up 614 kms from Chennai. The agitation against the project has intensified since late last month after the authorities announced that the first of the two 1×1000 MWe reactors set up at the coastal village of Koodankulam would be commissioned in December. The villagers are mainly concerned over security for the plant. Various experts have certified that the nuclear plant is designed to withstand a tsunami and is not located in a region prone to earthquakes.  But 100 people are reportedly on a hunger fast.

Even as the protests intensified, Jayalalithaa sent a strong note to the PM, asking why the government has not deputed anyone to talk to villagers about their fears.  She said the centre has abdicated its responsibility. The PM called her a few hours later, and said a minister would reach her state today.

The nuclear plant, a joint venture with the Russians, is expected to help reduce Tamil Nadu’s considerable power problems. The first of its two nuclear reactors is scheduled to start operations in October this year. The Russian government is unhappy with the latest developments.”We think that the protests that are growing now in Tamil Nadu against the power station are a rather unfortunate development. We think this is an internal matter of India, but we hope that this problem can be settled by discussions between the central government, the Department of Atomic Energy,  local authorities, and the people who are now protesting in Kudankulam,” said  Senior counsellor at the Russian Embassy, Sargei Karmalito

The nuclear plant was sanctioned by the central government in 1988.  It is expected to cost $3.5 billion and is being built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).



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