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Cry for rein on nuclear projects

New Delhi, July 7: Anti-nuclear groups who had three years ago stalled pre-commissioning activities at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu today asked the National Democratic Alliance government to stop pursuing new nuclear power projects without public debates.

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and other anti- nuclear groups have sought a moratorium on all proposed nuclear power projects and asked the government to put on hold land acquisition at sites in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The PMANE’s founder, S.P. Udayakumar, and other anti-nuclear activists met the Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises, Pon Radhakrishnan, this evening and handed over a list of their demands. The activists have also sought meetings with Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“He (Radhakrishnan) told us he would carry our message to other ministers and the Prime Minister, and seek appointments for us — he told us it will be up to us to convince them all,” Udayakumar said after the meeting.

India has 20 nuclear reactors with an installed capacity of 5780MW electricity — about three per cent of all the electricity generated in the country.

A second 1000-MW unit at Kudankulam is expected to be commissioned later this year.

But the public sector Nuclear Power Corporation hopes to increase the installed capacity to about 20,000MW by 2022 through a mix of imported reactors in Jaitapur, Maharashtra and domestic reactors at sites in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The anti-nuclear consortium has said local populations at the proposed sites of nuclear power plants should have a “veto power” to determine whether they would like such a plant to be established near their homes.

“We want the government to share with the public the site evaluation reports for all proposed projects,” Udayakumar said. “We are asking for a public debate... if people are ready to accept nuclear power, we’re ready to go with that.”

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, another anti-nuclear group, said it has invited “grassroots activists” from several sites of proposed plants for a national conference in New Delhi next month.

The PMANE had in 2011 initiated a campaign against the Kudankulam nuclear plant that had stalled pre-commissioning activities for several months.

The first Kudankulam unit began feeding electricity to the southern electricity grid last October.