CHENNAI: Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s green light to the Koodankulam nuclear power plant may have been a champagne moment for the Centre, but the AIADMK leader’s demand that all the power produced by the plant be given to Tamil Nadu has got it cornered again. Jayalalithaa broke her silence of over seven months on the Koodankulam imbroglio through a state Cabinet decision, giving the nod for the commissioning of the jinxed nuclear power project on March 19.
The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) had run into rough weather in August 2011, just as it was getting ready to start generating electricity in the first 1,000-MW plant. The Centre was left wringing its hands in despair. After, Jayalalithaa gave her nod, the Centre heaved a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived. On March 31, Jayalalithaa shot a letter to Manmohan Singh, staking Tamil Nadu’s claim for the entire power generated by the two plants of KKNPP that have a combined capacity of 2,000 MW.
It was a demand that resonated with the aspirations of many people in the state, who have been complaining that power generated in Tamil Nadu was being taken away to light up other states, citing the Neyveli Lignite Corporation’s electricity generation as an example. But for the Centre, the demand heralded another round of haggling with the state mainly because it had originally planned to provide only less than 50 per cent of the power from KKNPP to Tamil Nadu.
It has now become clear that it was not without reason that the state government remained a spectator when supporters of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) launched an agitation against the plant at the coastal hamlet of Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district.
Now that Jayalalithaa has made the demand for the entire amount of power generated by the KKNPP, the Centre has a dilemma on its hands. But does it have a choice other than acceding to the demand from a state facing severe power shortage?
By getting the entire power from KKNPP for Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa will not only be able to keep her word to the people to make power cuts a thing of the past but will also gain more popularity given the resentment among some sections of the people over the state being used as a electricity generation ground for other states’ needs.
The KKNP saga isn’t over yet.