New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday made it clear that it can stop commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant if it finds that the mandatory safety requirements for it have not been put in place.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra said the safety of plant and the people living in its vicinity is its prime concern and issued notices to the Centre and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on a plea challenging the environmental clearance given to the controversial project.
“We will not hesitate to stop the plant if we find that the mandatory safety requirements have not been taken care of at the site,” said the bench while posting the case for further hearing on 4 October.
The court earlier had refused to stay loading of the fuel in the plant but had agreed to examine the risk associated with the project. The court was hearing an appeal by social activist G Sundarrajan against the Madras High Court’s decision refusing to impose any restraint against the plant.
The petitioner contended that after last year’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima in Japan, the Atomic Energy Regulation Board (AERB) had recommended 17 safety measures for the plant which have not been put in place. It said till now only six safety measures have been adopted and the government will take two years to implement the rest of the recommendations.
Challenging the environmental clearance given to the project in 1989, the petitioner has contended that enormous changes have taken place in the environmental norms since 1989 when the project was given green signal by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
“At the time of the clearance, there were no Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 1991, no mandatory public hearing notification of 1994 and no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report,” the petition added.
Further, enormous changes had been made in the original plan of 1988 (by signing a fresh agreement with Russia in 1998 and otherwise also) that had huge environmental implications, the petition said adding that the environmental clearance given in 1989 reads like a formality with no proper application of mind.
“The conditions imposed are vague and merely amount to saying that necessary regulations need to be followed. There are no precise conditions, no real evaluation of the environmental impact of the plant and no proper mitigation strategies. The said clearance was made without any EIA study and at that time even the site of the plant had not been fixed,” it said.
The petition said the environmental clearance granted in May 1989 was routine and general in nature with little thought given to specific aspects of the project.
The apex court had on 13 September refused to stay the loading of fuel for nuclear power plant at Kudankulam but had agreed to examine the risk associated with the project, saying safety of people living in its vicinity is of prime concern. PTI