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Anti-nuclear activity

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One fisherman was shot dead by police on Monday as hundreds of protesters clashed with armed officers (AFP, Str)

Protests against the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant have spread rapidly in the last few days. Police have taken rather fired on people, killing one.

DNA reports that a plea has been filed in the supreme court:

The Special Leave Petition (SLP) by social activist G Sundarrajan against the Madras High Court’s August 31 decision refusing to impose any restraint has claimed that non-implementation of various recommendations formulated by the Government’s Task Force “puts to grave risk the safety of millions of citizens.”

The petition, filed through counsel Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, said the high court had given a go ahead to the nuclear power plant without first ensuring that the 17 critical safety features recommended by the Central government’s expert task-force are put in place.

It complained that in complete violation of the absolute liability principle evolved by the apex court, the government has absolved the Russian company supplying the nuclear reactor of any liability in case of an accident.

According to the petition, the government’s Task Force had made a detailed review of the safety measures of the project in the light of inadequacies of Fukushima plant which suffered due to lack of alternative fresh water storage and want of back-up power system.

The Task Force had sought implementation of its 17 recommendations before commissioning units 1 and 2 of KKNPP, the petition said.

The important recommendations among other things related to provision of alternative fresh water storage system and emergency pumping equipment, which are yet to be implemented even today, it added.

It said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) now states that implementation of these measures would take six months to 2 years.

“If, by chance, any natural disaster happens before the said measures are implemented, there is every chance of a meltdown and huge leakage of radiation that would make a large area uninhabitable for decades and would need evacuation of millions of people,” the petition said.

The petitioner said the AERB could not act independently in the matter because it is under the Atomic Energy Department and hence is unable to act firmly.

“India’s nuclear safety regulator AERB is a body under the control of the very department it is supposed to regulate and merely acts as a rubber-stamping authority, and thereby, it has put to grave risk the rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the petition said.

The petitioner said with the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 coming into force from September 21, 2010, the liability of the nuclear plant operator and supplier has been pegged at a meagre Rs1500 crore “in complete violation of the absolute liability principle” propounded by the apex court in its earlier judgements on environmental issues.

In view of the extremely inadequate compensation paid to victims of the Bhopal gas accident, it seems that there has to be much more commitment from the government towards nuclear safety.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

September 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

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