CHENNAI: The deepening Koodankulam mess has made it apparent that only one of the figures in the unfolding drama had got it right from the start: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Seven months ago, Jayalalithaa had told the Centre: “Allay the fears of the people first, commission the plant next.”
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), spearheading the agitation against the Koodanmulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), have reposed faith in Jayalalithaa. The PMANE has reasons to believe that Jayalalithaa would take a right decision on this issue. It was revealed in a memorandum submitted to her by the movement on February 29, which said: “You are the only leader in India who has had a consistent and clear stand on the nuclear issue. When the nuclear-powered ship USS Nimitz came to dock in Chennai on July 1, 2007, you strongly objected to that. You also opposed the India-US nuclear deal vociferously as it was not in the best interest of our country. When the people of southern Tamil Nadu started protesting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), you kindly passed a Cabinet resolution and even facilitated our meeting with the Prime Minister. You also told the Koodankulam people that ‘I will be one among you’ and that their satisfaction was of paramount important to your
Jayalalithaa was the first person to raise her voice in favour of the KNPP and asked the locals to cooperate with the government in commissioning the plant. But after gauging the mood on the street, she said allaying the fears of the people was paramount. There is no reason to suspect any change in her views.
It is widely believed that the Central government failed to take the chief minister into confidence on this issue; many think this is the major reason behind the delay in finding a solution. The Prime Minister wrote a letter to Jayalalithaa on October 4 and 12 and released the same to the media, but failed to send them to the addressee, Jayalalithaa.
Expressing her resentment, Jayalalithaa had to write to the Prime Minister, stating that she got the copy of the letter dated October 4, 2011 from the PMO only after making a request on October 9. The second letter dated October 7 was not delivered to her till October 18.
In October 18 letter to the Prime Minister, Jayalalithaa said: “Right from the beginning, the Centre has been failing to allay the fears of the local people despite the fact that the KNPP was a Central government project and that the Centre was duty bound to do so. The Centre continue to keep aloof from the issue.” Jayalalithaa then appointed an expert committee after the 15-member panel appointed by the Centre failed to convince the agitators. That committee has already submitted its report.