The Madras High Court today gave nod to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) and said it poses no environmental impediments. The order was in response to public interest litigations filed by eight petitioners raising concerns about environmental safety of the plant, which is being set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
While giving nod to commence operations of Unit I and II, the Court also asked the Pollution Control Board and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to conduct regular inspection at the site.
The Court also said that it cannot suspect AERB's expertise and all 17 safety recommendations of the task force should be implemented as committed. As of now, only six of them have been complied with. Krishna Srinivasan, the counsel for NPCIL, argued that NPCIL safety standards are in the highest order and they compiled with all regulatory approvals and it has been indicated to the Court.
The Unit-1 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project is at an advanced stage of commissioning. The permission for initial fuel loading and first approach to criticality was accorded by AERB on August 10, 2012, said V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Ministry Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha the Minister recently said currently preparations for fuel (Uranmium) loading are going on. After completion of the fuel loading in the reactor, activities to approach the first criticality (start of the fission chain reaction for the first time), a major milestone, will be taken up in line with the approved procedures and AERB stipulations. After criticality, the full power operation of the unit will be achieved in steps in accordance with the laid down procedures.
The Expert Group of eminent persons constituted by the Central Government has addressed all the legitimate concerns of the local people. Government has also enhanced the public outreach activities, using a multi-prolonged approach to address the genuine apprehensions of the local people.
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between India and the Russian Federation on co-operation in the construction of additional nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam site as well as in the construction of Russian designed nuclear power plants at new sites in India was signed on December 5, 2008.
The cost of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Units 1&2 is estimated to go up from Rs 13,171 crore to Rs 17,270, due to delay in commissioning of the plant, Narayanasamy said.