Madras HC questions Centre about reactor

A Madras High Court bench comprising Justices Jyotimani and Duraisamy heard seven cases in the ongoing investigation into the protests against the Koodankulam Nuclear Reactor.

The central government filed the reports submitted by an independent committee and an expert committee. The details of the India-Russia contract were also filed. The judges directed a barrage of questions at the central and state governments.

The judges asked the Centre to explain whether the Ministry of Environment had issued a new clearance certificate. They also wanted to know why the two expert committees had come up with conflicting reports – there have been inconsistencies in the two reports, which give different figures for data such as the temperature at which the reactor is maintained. The judges asked whether the regulations regarding radiation levels had been adhered to during the construction of the nuclear reactor.

The judges asked the state government whether it would accept the recommendations of the second expert committee’s report. They said the state must inform the court of the arrangements that have been made to channel water to Koodankulam from the Pechiparai reservoir.

The bench asked the Pollution Control Board of Tamil Nadu whether they had spoken to the public after the tsunami, and whether they had taken into account the opinions of the locals regarding the commissioning of a nuclear reactor.

Since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, there have been protests against the construction of what will be India’s largest atomic power plant. Villagers say the plant is a threat to their lives as well as the ecology, which in turn would affect the livelihood of fishermen.

Earlier this month, a report released following a public hearing on the issue alleged that there had been human rights violations as the police subdued the protests.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has promised there will be an inquiry into the said violations. The next hearing in the case has been posted for 26 June.
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