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‘Kudankulam safety is a matter of public interest’

The Supreme Court Thursday told the government not to treat as an adversarial litigation the petition seeking implementation of all safety steps before the commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant [KNPP] as it concerns public interest.

A bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra made the observation when Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman sought to counter counsel Prashant Bhushan while he was arguing the case against the loading of fuel rods in the reactor of the plant till all the 17 safety steps recommended by the expert committee were put in place. Asking the Solicitor General to be patient, Justice Radhakrishnan observed: ‘It concerns the rights of the people. It is [a matter] of public interest [matter]. We understand it.’

It also told Nariman that issues being raised by Bhushan were not piecemeal as he had contended.

The court’s response came in the course of the hearing of a petition by an IT professional, P. Sundarrajan, seeking to restrain Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd [NPCIL] from going ahead with the loading of the fuel rods in the reactor of KNPP’s unit one. During the last hearing 13 Sep, the court had declined to pass any immediate order to restrain the government and NPCIL from going ahead with the loading of nuclear fuel rods in the reactor of the plant. Assailing the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s [AERB] nod for the loading the fuel rods in KKNPP, Bhushan said that the regulatory board had made an unequivocal statement that the Tamil Nadu nuclear plant would not be commissioned without implementing the 17 recommendations of the expert committee that was set up in the wake of Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan.

Now the same regulatory board says that fuel roads could be loaded in the reactor and safety recommendations could be implemented in the due course of the time, he told the court.

Mocking at the AERB for allegedly backtracking from its position before the Madras High Court, Bhushan said: ‘If it [safety measures] is not required, then why they should be implemented even after two years?’    
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