CHENNAI: The Madras High Court today issued notice to the Centre on a plea seeking to restrain the authorities concerned from continuing with the work for the proposed new Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) units, citing alleged non-compliance of norms.
The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, before which the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by G Sundarrajan of the Poovulagin Nanbargal, a green NGO, came up, posted the matter to September 15 for further hearing. In his plea, the petitioner sought to forbear the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and KKNPP from going ahead with the "First Pour of Concrete" (FPC) for units three and four. The FPC, an important milestone in the construction of a nuclear power project, signifies the commencement of construction. The NGO, while referring to a 2014 order of the Madras High Court, said, "Despite the optimism expressed by the court about the strict compliance of all the prescribed norms, the respondents have again failed to consider the conditions."
The conditions include setting up of an "exclusion zone" around the plant with required control and designation of an area of a five-km radius around it as a "sterilised zone". The petition contended that without complying with such norms, the clearance for site excavation of KKNPP units three and four, granted by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), was violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Explaining further, the petitioner claimed that an area up to a distance of 1.6 km around the plant should be physically isolated from the external area by "plant-fencing" and that no public habitation should be allowed in it. He further said such an area, known as the "exclusion zone", should be under the control of the plant. Around this exclusion zone, up to a distance of five km only, natural growth should be permitted and developmental activities, which might result in population growth, must be restricted, the petition said, adding that this annular area was called the "sterilised zone".
Citing "desirable population distribution" statistics around the site, the petitioner said there should be no population greater than 10,000 within 10 km of the plant. Also, there should be no population centre of more than one lakh within 30 km of the plant and the total population in the sterilised zone area should be small. However, within a distance of 10 km of the site for the proposed KKNPP units three to six, there were six villages with a population of more than 10,000 each, the petition said.
Since more than six population centres were there within 10 km of the plant, the AERB could not have granted "siting consent" vide its order dated February 9, 2011, the petitioner contended. Therefore, the petitioner said the AERB order granting "siting consent" for KKNPP units three to six was violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.