In a strong message to protesters opposing the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said the agitation against the commercial operation of the nuclear energy facility has been ‘overdone’ and that the Rs.14,000-crore plant that came up over a decade ‘cannot be simply left idle’.
He also expressed the hope that the stir around the plant by villagers will end soon, as the government has gone ‘out of the way’ to assure the villagers around about the safeguards of the facility.
Manmohan Singh, who while in Moscow for a summit meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced the 2,000 MW total capacity Kudankulam plant built with Russian help would go operational in a few weeks, said the government had done ‘as much as it can’ to assure those protesters that the reactors were the safest available in the world.
He also said that the first two units with 1,000-MW capacity ‘cannot be simply left idle’.
While the first unit will begin functioning in two weeks, the second unit, the prime minister had said, will go operational in another six months. During the summit meeting, the two sides had also agreed to move forward on units III and IV of Kudankulam soon and finalised discussions on the text of a protocol for grant of Russian state credit for the two units.
‘There are some people who are worried about safety of nuclear reactors and we have gone out of our way to assure as much as we can that the nuclear reactors that are being put up at Kudankulam are the safest available in the world,’ he said in reply to questions on the continuing agitation against the project in south Tamil Nadu.
‘We have appointed a group of 15 experts to interact with their representatives appointed by the Tamil Nadu government and to interact with the local people and more and more people, including the legislators and MPs, and I think they are increasingly of the view that this agitation is overdone,’ he said.
Manmohan Singh said he was in touch with the state government and it was his hope that the state, which is short of power, will recognise that the nuclear plant, with 2,000 MW capacity, will bring nearly 1,000 MW to it, while the other half would go to other southern States.
‘So I am confident that ultimately good sense will prevail. Politics is sometimes, I think, too murky. In the final analysis, I am convinced good sense prevails and will prevail in this case,’ he added.
He also noted that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had written to him seeking additional allocation of power to the state from the national grid and that the power ministry had immediately given 100 MW. ‘We will satisfy the legitimate requirements of Tamil Nadu. We are working on it,’ he added.