Chennai, Jul 17: The Madras High Court on Monday asked the Tirunelveli District Collector and Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department to appear before the court on Jul 19 in connection to writs petitioned on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. A Division Bench comprising Justices P Jyothimani and S Duraiswamy gave the order after expressing its discontent with an affidavit filed by the officers.
The collector, R Selvaraj, in his counter affidavit filed through Advocate General A Nabaneethakrishnan said a mock emergency was declared and a drill of counter-measures were conducted in three phases on Jun 9 as per the 'off-site emergency plan'.
Collector R Selvaraj, on a common counter affidavit, filed through the Advocate General, A Navaneethakrishnan, said as part of the 'off-site emergency measure', a mock emergency was declared and a drill was conducted in three stages on Jun 9. Nakkanery, located 7 km from the nuclear project, was chosen as the 'locally-affected area' for the exercise.
The affidavit said every two years, one village falling within a radius of 16 kilometres of the project will be covered with the exercise.
The HC judges also sought additional details on the welfare measures worth Rs 500 crore taken in and around Kudankulam.
Meanwhile, the Public Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has alleged that the entire project is shrouded in secrecy and crucial documents were hided from the people and both the Centre and the state government were violating the law with impunity.
HC on nuclear wastes
The High Court also sought clarification from the Centre on how it would dispose off the nuclear wastes and reprocess the spent fuel in a way that it did not harm the environment. The HC said this while hearing a batch of public interest petitions on the plant.
However, the Centre's counsel was clearly left uncomfortable by the absence of the Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) for South India, whose term is yet to be extended after its expiry earlier this month. The Division Bench, however, said it could not wait for a new ASG to give an explanation on the matter. The debate on the spent fuel started after the PUCL filed a fresh PIL and asked to be impleaded as a party to the court proceedings.
Earlier, a special government pleader from Tamil Nadu, IS Inbadurai told the bench that the Tirunelveli district police had registered 271 FIRs against agitators protesting the nuclear plant and that over 200 people had been arrested for various offences and released later. Counsel for another petitioner Advocate M Radhakrishnan said they were not against the nuclear plant but sought a fresh environment clearance from the Centre. "The clearance obtained in 2003 should not be used now for the project has undergone several changes since then," he said.
(With agency inputs)