Doubts have been raised over Tamil Nadu government’s package for the upliftment of villages surrounding Kudankulam Nuclear power Plant with anti nuclear activists alleging it as an attempt to silence the dissent against the proposed waste disposal facility – Away From Reactor – at Kudankulam.
“Announcing such projects, the government would be able to buy certain influential persons in the villages. And through these powerful persons, the poor villagers could be silenced. It is only for silencing the protest against AFR that the government has been announcing such sops,” said anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar.
Five years after the long struggles against the nuclear plant, Kudankulam and the surrounding villages have again geared up for another battle against the plant. This time they are against setting up AFR, which they fear would be converted into a permanent facility. Five Villages — Kudankulam,
Idinthakarai, Vadakankulam, Perumanal and Kavalkinar have passed resolutions against AFR facility.
Raising doubts over the proposed AFR to be set up at Kudankulam, Udayakumar said “we are demanding to first set up Deep Geological Repository (DGR) and then go for Away from Reactor (AFR) facility.” Away From Reactor is a storage facility for storing spent fuel generated at the nuclear plants and Deep Geological Disposal is for final disposal of nuclear waste.
Stating that setting up DGR was a bit complicated, he said that “no state will risk in granting land for setting up the DGR, which is a permanent disposal ground of nuclear waste. This raises doubts about the waste disposal facility here. Once DGR is set up, we will be able to know that the facility that is going to be set up in Kudankulam is AFR and not a permanent facility. And if DGR is not set up, there is a possibility of permanently depositing all the waste in Kudankulam.”
Moreover, Udayakumar told Kadapuram.com that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), which had earlier told the Supreme Court that they had no previous experience or technology with respect to AFR and had asked for extended time to set up the facility, are now claiming to have the technology knowhow. The NPCIL is now saying that they have already set up such a waste disposal facility at Rawatbhata and the construction of another one at the same site is going on. “We do not know what the truth is. We are confused at the two statements—- one saying that they have no knowledge and another saying that they have already set up one and another is being set up.” As such, he said that they doubted that the waste disposal facility going to be set up at Kudankulam was not AFR but only DGR. “That why we have asked to first set up DGR and then go for AFR,” he said. .
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had called for a public hearing to discuss AFR in July but was cancelled allegedly because of large scale protest. Now the Kudankulam power plant has asked the YNPCB to hold the public hearing at the earliest.
The Supreme Court had ordered in 2013 to set up an AFR and to identify a place for DGR.