New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) Declining to put on hold for now the loading of fuel rods in one of the two reactors of Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court Thursday said it would hear Sep 20 the plea seeking to restrain the central government.
The apex court’s decision came as hundreds of people from Tamil Nadu’s Idinthakarai village, the epicentre of the protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), stood in the sea water Thursday to protest moves to load uranium fuel in one of the two reactors.
The apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra declined to pass any immediate order on a petition seeking to restrain the government and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) from going ahead with the loading of nuclear fuel rods in the reactor of the plant.
The petitioner alleged that the 17 safety measures recommended by an expert panel had not been implemented.
“Whether these 17 safety measures had to be taken before the commissioning of the plant,” Justice Misra asked Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati.
“They are the third (layer) of safety steps by way of abundant caution for safety enhancement,” Vahanvati told the court.
The court said it would hear Sep 20 the plea seeking to restrain the central government from loading nuclear fuel rods in the reactor of the plant.
The judges said that they wanted to go through the two judgments of the Madras High Court not accepting petitioner P. Sundarrajan’s plea.
Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, pressed for an order restraining the government from going ahead with the loading of the fuel rods but Justice Misra asked “was there any stay at any point of time”.
Sundarrajan, an IT professional, moved the apex court Tuesday contending that the government should not go ahead with the loading of the fuel rods till the 17 safety steps recommended by an expert committee were implemented.
Mentioning the matter before the bench, Bhushan told the court that the expert committee was set up by the government after Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan.
Bhushan told the court that out of the 17 safety steps recommended by the expert committee only six had been implemented.
As Justice Radhakrishnan inquired about the time gap between the loading of the fuel rods and the actual commissioning of the plant, Vahanvati said that it would take two months.
Bhushan, however, told the court that once the enriched uranium fuel rods were loaded in the reactor then there would be no scope for going back.
The attorney general told the court that the Tamil Nadu government had certain reservations about the safety of the plant and it had set up an expert committee headed by former chairman, Atomic Energy Commission M.R. Srinivasan, which had cleared the KNPP for commissioning.
As Justice Radhakrishan told the attorney general that the petitioner was not against the commission of the KNPP, Vahanvati read from the Madras High Court verdict, under challenge, “…there is no impediment for the NPCIL to proceed with the project and the safety measures have been satisfied and clearances have been obtained from various authorities.”