Supreme Court gives green signal to Kudankulam nuclear plant, says it is safe

KudankulamDemonstrators near the Kudankulam nuclear power project. (File photo: Reuters)

Asserting that "India cannot afford to be a nuclear isolated nation" in view of its increasing demand for electricity, the Supreme Court on Monday gave its nod to the national policy for establishment of Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu and held that all safety standards have been complied with.

However, the bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra added the caveat that the plant should not

be made operational unless all the authorities concerned grant "final clearance" for its commissioning, "ensuring the quality of various components and systems".

The court asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to closely examine all the issues, including safety of the plant and its environmental impact.

The bench asked that a report "be filed before this court before commissioning" and emphasised on periodic review of the plant.

Observing that the court should respect the national policy that is meant for "larger public interest", the court, in two separate but concurring judgements by the judges on the bench, added that nuclear energy had become necessary for the welfare of the people and could minimise the power problem in the country.

It also said that when all the safety measures were already in place, nuclear energy would not negate the right to life of people but would protect it instead.

A batch of petitions had been filed by anti-nuclear activists, challenging the project on the ground that safety measures recommended by an expert body had not been put in place.

The Centre, TN government and NPCIL, which operates the plant, had submitted that the plant is completely safe and can withstand any kind of natural disaster or terrorist attack.

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