The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the loading of fuel for the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam, but agreed to examine the risk associated to the project, saying safety of people living in its vicinity is of prime concern. "Public safety is of prime importance. There are poor people living in the vicinity of the plant and they should know that their life would be protected," a bench of judges K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra said while posting the matter for hearing on September 20.
The Bench, which refused to stay the fuel loading after the Centre assured the court that commissioning of the plant would take at least two months, said it would go through the judgments of the Madras High Court and hear the matter.
As anti-Kudankulam prot-ests intensified, India’s nuclear regulator on Thursday said it was yet to give final clearance for loading of enriched uranium fuel into the first 1,000 Mw atomic plant built with Russian collaboration. “Fuel loading has not yet begun,” S S Bajaj, chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), told reporters at a briefing on safety measures at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).
Bajaj said a seven-member AERB team was carrying out last minute checks at the first 1,000 Mw unit of KNPP.
Meanwhile, taking their protest against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant to the sea, hundreds of people on Thursday held a ‘jal satyagraha’ by standing in sea water and forming a human chain, demanding halting of preparations for fuel loading into the reactor.
Coast Guard aircraft hovered over the sea and its ships kept vigil off nearby Idinthakarai, as the villagers, including women and children, from Kudankulam and nearby fishing hamlets walked into the sea for a show of strength.
Though the protest was intended to be from 10 am to 4 pm, the activists said they would continue with their protest indefinitely on a relay basis.
Police said they were monitoring the developments from a distance and would not act unless ‘provoked extremely’. Police have summoned S P Uthayakumar and Pushparayan of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy , which is spearheading the movement against KNPP for the last 396 days, to appear before a court on September 18. Speaking to Business Standard from an unknown location, Uthaya-kumar said, “I will consult my lawyers and then decide on whether to appear before the court.”