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Kundankulam n-plant: SC frowns at Tamil Nadu's lethargy

Posted on Nov 20, 10:24PM | IANS

Observing that there could be no compromise on safety, the Supreme Court lashed out at the Tamil Nadu government for being lethargic in putting in place a plan for the evacuation of people in the event of an accident at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).

Saying that there could be no compromise on the issue of safety of the plant, the apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra asked the state government "how and where they (people) will be evacuated" in the event of an accident.

"Your (Tamil Nadu government's) attitude seems to be lethargic... we want seriousness from you," the court said.

The court frowned at the attitude of the Tamil Nadu government while hearing a petition seeking to restrain the government from operationalising KNPP-I and II in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district.

The petition said that before operationalising the units, the safety measures, including 17 recommended by a task force set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), should be put in place.

Holding that "on safety issue there could not be any compromise", the court wanted to have the details of the state government's plan for the transportation of people, their lodging at an alternative place, arrangements for their clothing and lodging in case of a nuclear accident.

The court told the state government that it had to follow the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority for evacuation of effected people in the event of nuclear accident.

As Tamil Nadu Additional Advocate General Guru Krishna Kumar sought to persuade the court that "both seriousness and earnest was there in the actions of the state government", counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an information technology professional and petitioner P. Sundarrajan, mocked the claim of the state on being serious.

Bhushan said that it was already four-and-half months since the Madras High court asked the state government to conduct emergency evacuation drills in all the 40 villages within 16 km radius of the nuclear project but none had been carried out.

Cautioning the state government against complacence, Justice Radhakrishnan said: "If you have not taken safety measures then we will have to order the same."

Having a dig at the central government for not putting in place 17 safety measure, Bhushan told the court the task was to be done within six months.