Miffed with Centre, Jaya­la­li­th­­aa to Skip CMs Conclave


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Jayalalitha

J. Jayalalitha, Chief Minister, Tamilandu, India.

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Chennai: Chief minister J. Jaya­la­li­th­­aa has decided to skip the conference of chief ministers on internal security being chaired by the Prime Minister at New Delhi on Wednesday, pointing out that the CMs were being gi­ven “very little opportunity” to express their views at such meets that were re­duced to being mere “annual ritualistic exercise”.

In a letter to the PM on Tuesday, copies of which were made available to the media, she acknowledged the invitation from the Union home minister for the present conference, which “no doubt is a very important event since it concerns the primary function of the state, viz, maintenance of public order”.

But then, like all such conferences chaired by the PM, this one too had “a long and weighty agenda of 12 subjects” and even uttering just their titles would take ten minutes, the time being “cavalierly allotted” to ea­ch CM to present his/her views, Jayalalithaa said.

She said the UPA government had reduced even su­ch important conferen­ces “to a routinised ritual rat­her than a consultative pro­cess, with the chief ministers constantly guillotined to cut short their speeches”, despite the fact that they were equal partners in the governance of the country.

The CMs would expect to be able to make meaningful contributions to the discussions and make the Centre aware of the true situation on the ground. “Only this will ena­ble us to formulate policies and allocate resources ba­sed on real need”, she argued.

She said the current conference too appeared aimed at “merely assembling” all the CMs to “rubber stamp” measures pre-decided by the Centre.

Recalling her experience at the National Develop­ment Council meet last De­c­ember when she was fo­r­ced to cut short her speech by the guillotine bell after the allotted ten minutes, the CM said rather than attending a conference wh­e­re CMs would be “railro­aded to finish their speeches within 10 minutes and to merely lay a speech on the table”, she was deputing senior minister K.P. Munu-samy to deliver her speech and it could be taken on record.

“I have given the most earnest consideration of all the agenda items and my speech gives the detailed views of Tamil Nadu on all the subjects listed in the agenda”, Jayalalithaa told the PM in her hard-hitting letter that is bound to trigger a fresh debate on the callous manner in which the Centre has been treating some of the non-Congress states in recent times.

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Re-posted from DECCAN Chronicle

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Stop Kudankulam fuelling, lives are at stake!


By Dr. A .Gopalakrishnan (a past chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board)

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...

The government, through its Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Nuclear Power Corporation Limited (NPCIL), and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is racing to bring the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, Unit-1 (KNPP-1) to full-power operation at the earliest. The questions predominantly troubling the conscientious public today are simply these: Is the Kudankulam Unit-1 ready for introduction of nuclear fuel assemblies into its core (‘fuelling’), having fully completed all the safety modifications and additions recommended by AERB’s Post-Fukushima Committee to Review Safety of Indian Nuclear Power Plants? What other mandatory, pre-fuelling safety-related tasks such as conducting proper emergency drills in villages within a 30 km-radius of the reactors remain? What are the serious implications to public safety if NPCIL and AERB move forward with fuelling activity and bring this reactor to its full power of 1000 MWe in the current state of inadequate and incomplete safety status?

On some of the glaring defaults of the current actions of the DAE, NPCIL and the AERB vis-à-vis KNPP-1, there are three Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) currently before the Supreme Court of India. The next hearing of one SLP that seriously pleads for stopping fuelling activity is set for September 27. As early as on March 26, 2012 , a writ petition (no. 8262) was filed in the Madras High Court for a direction against the DAE, NPCIL, AERB and others to implement all the recommendations of the AERB’s Post-Fukushima Report before fuel-loading is started. In response, the AERB counsel informed the court , “— that before initial fuel loading is done, the compliance of all the requirements under Annexure-8 (of the AERB report) will be ensured by the AERB and it is only after its satisfaction any direction (for loading fuel) will be given—” . Subsequently , the High Court decided to reserve its orders on August 2, 2012 , pending detailed judgement to follow.

n the interim, since the court had not imposed any stay on actions by NPCIL and AERB, chairman, AERB, used this opportunity to issue a clearance for initial fuel loading of KNPP-1 on August 10 after reviews by their internal committees. The original petitioner then filed yet another writ petition (no. 22253) in the Madras HC on August 13, challenging the fuel-loading clearance given by AERB, even while 11 out of the 17 safety recommendations of the AERB’s Post-Fukushima Report still remained to be implemented. AERB, in reply to this writ petition, submitted two affidavits, first one on August 18 and another on August 22.

he post-Fukushima evaluations by an independent AERB committee, headed by a past chairman of the AERB had recommended 17 safety upgrades in Annexure-8 of its report. The committee, however, did not sort these on the basis of relative importance, urgency or priority. The sense you get from this report is that all 17 corrective steps are equally important and AERB must insist on all of them being fully implemented and tested before fuel-loading is permitted. This is consistent with the affidavit earlier submitted to the Madras HC by Mr R. Suresh Kumar, counsel for AERB, “ — that before initial fuel loading is done, the compliance of all the requirements under Annexure-8 will be ensured by the AERB and it is only after its satisfaction that any direction will be given—–” .

However, in their affidavits to the same court on August 18 and 22, AERB reversed its stand by stating, “—recommendations in Annexure-8 of the Post-Fukushima Report were considered (by the internal AERB committees) during review of the application for fuel loading submitted by NPCIL. The review indicated that KNPP-1 has adequate safety measures against external events — In order to further enhance safety , as an abundant measure , some additional safety enhancements proposed by NPCIL were reviewed in depth and accepted for implementation in a phased manner.”

“Based on the review and resolution of NPCIL submissions, AERB agreed for short-term (less than six months) and long-term ( less than two years) implementation of the Post-Fukushima recommendations from the date of the fuel-loading clearance”.

Ultimately, the Madras HC did not agree with the plea of the protesters for full implementation of Annexure-8 safety steps before fuel loading is initiated and the matter is now being heard by the Supreme Court. Even as the Supreme Court hearings are going on, the NPCIL and the AERB are already loading the nuclear fuel into KNPP-1.

What the AERB has done is a total volte face of its earlier stated positions in the Madras HC, and contrary to the spirit and recommendations of the AERB Post-Fukushima Safety Evaluation Committee.

This has happened because the DAE, NPCIL and AERB appear to be under the direct control of the PMO on the Kudankulam issue, and none of them dares to take any decisions on their own.

The PM, is for months accused in the national and international press for India’s policy paralysis, the dwindling performance of the power sector, and for substantial slippage in the execution schedules of many major projects. During his last two visits to Russia, the PM promised expeditious completion of KNPP-1&2. The local protests at site have put a monkey wrench into his promises and timetable. PM and his PMO consider their face-saving to be more important than the possibility of imperiling the lives of people living near KNPP-1, and appear to have clearly instructed the DAE-AERB combine to rush through with commissioning the plant. The subservient DAE and AERB seem to be complying with his directions.

In this hurried approach to starting the KNPP-1 project, what essential safety precautions are the NPCIL and AERB tossing by the wayside? As per current plans, the reactor will be operated at least for the first two years or more at the full power level of 1000 MWe, without its primary containment being assessed for its ultimate load-bearing capacity; without the availability of a portable diesel-powered unit with sensors and instrumentation to monitor essential safety parameters in case of a total blackout; in the absence of a set of mobile self-powered pumping set for emergency area use; without rectifying the serious inadequacies in instrumentation for independent monitoring of plant status during major accidents; and without the addition of mobile back-up power units like air-cooled diesel sets. Why each of these actions should take as long as 24 months to complete is unimaginable, but these actions have to be indeedexpedited, since they are all essential for mitigating the consequences of a major accident.

The AERB committee has also strongly recommended the urgent installation of an additional seismically-qualified 8,000 cubic-meter capacity back-up water storage tank as an alternate source for use under emergency situations where such actions as injection of borated water into the core and into the spent-fuel pool, charging water into the steam generator secondary side, etc will require excessive amounts of water. The already provided emergency water-storage facility has not been seismically-qualified and may not withstand moderate earthquakes. This anomaly has to be urgently rectified through analysis and repair. This existing storage was also found to be inadequate in holding capacity , for removing decay heat for a period of a minimum one week . This too is to be rectified. In case of a beyond design basis accident (BDBA), the emergency operating procedures to be used are still to be formulated and documented, to help impart training on BDBA to the operating staff.

It is more than 16 months since the Fukushima accident occurred and NPCIL has not even started planning for these procedures. Each of the above tasks is put in for “short-term” completion, namely, within the next six months. I doubt whether a satisfactory completion of many of these tasks can be achieved in six months, each may take more like one year at least.

As it stands, the important point to note is that NPCIL and AERB are NOT going to carry out any of the short or long-term tasks mentioned above, before the reactor is fuelled and brought to 1000 MWe power level. This approach is totally unacceptable from the safety point of view. Whether these 17 safety corrections are implemented or not, the probability of a major accident will remain more or less the same. But, ALL these safety corrections are necessary to ensure that the mitigation of the consequences will be far more acceptable with the corrections implemented than without, and these safety corrections will provide a distinctly safer environment for populations around the KNPP-1. Therefore, ALL the above-mentioned long-term and short-term safety corrections recommended by the AERB committee must be completed before the reactor is fuelled. Whatever fuel so far loaded into the core can be taken out safely and stored for future use.

The author Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan is a past chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

Reproduced from DNA

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Kudankulam: Antinuclear Fishermen lay siege to Tuticorin port


Written by Sam Daniel, Edited by Mala Das

September 22, 2012

Anti-nuclear protesters lay siege to Tuticorin port

Anti-nuclear protesters lay siege to Tuticorin port

Protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant continue unabated with thousands of fishermen having laid siege to the port at Tuticorin today, demanding the closure of the controversial plant.

Nearly thousand fishing boats have blocked entry to the Tuticorin harbour, which is situated around 60 miles away from the nuclear power plant. The loading of nuclear fuel, which is on at one of the reactors at the Kudankulam plant, has not in the least dented the determination of the protesters, all fishermen hailing from the districts of Tuticorin, Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli – where the plant is located.

“Fishermen in Kudankulam and surrounding districts are protesting over the last 400 days, but the government is not listening and we will have to resort to these kind of protests,” said a fisherman. These fishermen are worried that the plant, once commissioned, will destroy their livelihood. Subash Fernando, Spokesperson of the Agitation Committee, says, “Once the plant is commissioned, the radiation from it would disqualify our catch for export to the European market, and even if nuclear fuel is loaded, it’s not too late to stop it”.Two expert committees appointed by the government have found the plant to be safe, dubbing public fears unfounded.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who initially supported the cause of the movement, later did a U-turn, citing that the project could bring relief to the state which is reeling under a severe power shortage. Around a lakh and half people, who live in the vicinity, are opposed to the plant. “If India believes in democracy, the government should listen to the people.

If Japan could have a Fukushima disaster, imagine what could happen in India which was also hit by a tsunami not long ago,” said a villager. Presently, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition that challenges the go-ahead given to the nuclear plant. Petitioners cite that the plant is yet to incorporate 11 of the 17 safety recommendations made by a government task force after the Fukushima disaster.

However, the atomic energy department claims these are only enhanced safety features which would be implemented in phases. At Idinthakarai – ground zero for the protests – just three kilometres away from the plant, around four to five thousand villagers are continuing their protest demanding the closure of the plant. Two weeks ago, around 10 thousand people marched towards the plant in a bid to lay siege; police opened tear gas and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd.

A non-bailable warrant has been issued against SP Udhayakumar, the face of the movement, as he failed to honour a court summon. He says “the government is trying to project them as the most wanted terrorists”. The Kudankulam power plant is the first nuclear project to near completion after the Fukushima disaster. Some countries like Germany have decided to turn away from nuclear energy and the international community is keenly watching how India handles the rising opposition to the project..

Reproduced from ndtv.com

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Protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant continue unabated with hundreds of fishermen having laid siege to the port at Tuticorin today, demanding the closure of the controversial plant.

Around 200 anti-nuclear activists were detained today in Tuticorin, while they were heading to Idinthakarai, the venue of protest against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. The activists were set to join the villagers who have buried themselves neck-deep in sand along the shore, demanding a halt to the preparations for loading of fuel into one of two nuclear reactors at the controversial plant.

Around 1000 villagers near Kudankulam, including women and children, buried themselves neck deep on the sea shore protesting against the upcoming nuclear plant. Over the last one year they have been demanding closure of the plant alleging the project would destroy life and livelihood. Two expert committees have found the plant to be safe. The Supreme Court too has refused to stay nuclear fuel loading.

Hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters forming a human chain stood in sea waters for the second day today demanding halting of preparations for fuel loading into the Kudankulam nuclear reactor in Tamil Nadu.

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Kudankulam: Anti-nuclear Protest Reignites Despite Prohibitory Orders


Antinuclear Protesters at Kudankulam

Officials of the Koodankulam atomic power plant announced that the loading of enriched uranium fuel in the first of the two nuclear reactors would take place around September 11.

On Monday, September 10, police in Tirunelveli District clashed with the antinuclear agitators protesting against the Koodankulam atomic power project. The police asked the protesters to disperse citing the prohibitory orders. However, a great number of people tried to march towards the power plant, and got injured when the police tried to stop them.

Police attack Antinuclear Protesters at Kudankulam

Police attack Antinuclear Protesters at Kudankulam

Ms. J. Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu said the police lobbed tear-gas shells to protect themselves, the power plant, and also to prevent harm to the general public if the plant came under attack.

At Manappadu in Tuticorin District, police fired at a crowd of antinuclear agitators killing Anthony John, a 48-year-old fisherman. Ms. Jayalalithaa defended the police action. She said a policeman opened fire in self-defence when a mob tried to burn a temporary police post. Expressing her sympathies, she announced a relief of Rs 5 lakhs to the family of the victim.

Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa belittled the protestors saying it was not proper to agitate since the Madras High Court has approved the nuclear project. She appealed to people not to fall prey to the “designs” of antinuclear lo lobbyists.

Environment watchdog Greenpeace has condemned the Tamil Nadu government for its crackdown and use of force on protestors. A statement issued in New Delhi on Monday by Greenpeace campaigner Karuna Raina says, “The commissioning of a nuclear power plant should not happen without consensus with the stakeholders. In the case of Kudankulam, local villages are the biggest stakeholders. Since the power plant is in their backyard, their consent is required.” The statement further said, “Greenpeace stands in solidarity with the people of Kudankulam and their struggle for justice.

The human rights group, Amnesty International India, also urged the government to exercise restraint. Their Chief Executive G Ananthapadmanabhan in a statement said, “The Indian authorities should exercise restraint and ensure that the police response does not amount to excessive use of force.

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Sri Lankan Catholic Pilgrims Attacked by Pro-LTTE Outfits in Tamilnadu


Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health, Velankanni. Photo: J.T. Leo Fernando

Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health, Velankanni. Photo: J.T. Leo Fernando

On Monday, September 3, the government of Sri Lanka issued the following advisory for its citizens visiting Tamilnadu:

“The Government of Sri Lanka is constrained to request Sri Lankan nationals in the interest of their security to desist from undertaking visits to Tamilnadu until further notice.”

The Sri Lankan Government posted the advisory after a group of 184 Sri Lankan Catholics who included 75 women and 36 children, were inconvenienced during their annual pilgrimage in Tamilnadu, India.

On Monday evening, members belonging to pro-LTTE Tamil outfits mobbed the pilgrims worshiping at the Poondi Madha Catholic shrine near Thanjavur. The pilgrims took refuge in the church. The protestors were members of Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam headed by film director Seeman, Tamizhar Desiya Poduvudamai Katchi led by P. Nedumaran, and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi led by Thirumavalavan. They raised slogans and asked the pilgrims to go back to Sri Lanka, immediately.

Early Tuesday, the group of pilgrims arrived at Velankanni to offer worship at the holy Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health. After prayers, they left for Tiruchirapalli airport, to board a special flight home. Then, once again, they faced the rage of pro-LTTE groups. Their convoy of buses was once again blocked and attacked by the protestors who used two wheelers to block the road. The protesters shouted, “Sinhalese go back”.

A tire of a bus got punctured and the convoy halted. The protesters attacked three buses. Windowpanes of some buses were shattered in the attack; however, no passenger suffered any major injury.

Police personnel on security duty for the ongoing annual festival at Velankanni rushed to the spot. They arrested nine activists of the Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam and brought the situation under control within a few minutes.

The pilgrims later proceeded to Tiruchirappalli safely from where they are expected to leave for Sri Lanka.

The government of Sri Lanka has assured its citizens that all steps had been taken through the government of India to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.

The Sri Lankan government has also said in its advisory that if anyone has a “compelling reason to visit Tamil Nadu, such a visit should take place following prior timely intimation to the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai.”

The External Affairs Ministry of Sri Lankan says it regrets the growing number of incidents of intimidation of Sri Lankan nationals visiting Tamil Nadu for the purposes of tourism, religious pilgrimages, sporting and cultural activities, and professional training.

Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK, DMK, and other political parties in Tamilnadu have joined hands in opposing the training of Sri Lankan military personnel in India. These parties allege that during the last phase of the war against LTTE, the island Republic’s forces had committed “war crimes” against Tamils.

Last Friday, a football team from Sri Lanka played a friendly match against the Chennai Customs Department. On Sunday, the Tamilnadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa gave orders to send the team back to Sri Lanka. She criticized the Central Government for allowing the Lankan football team to come to India.

Ms. Jayalalithaa also gave orders to send back the students from a Sri Lankan school and their coach, who had come down to Chennai for a tournament with a city-based school, to their homeland.

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Developments in Chennai for the release of Alex Paul Menon.


Alex Paul Menon chatting with villagers.

The abducted District Collector of Sukma, Alex Paul Menon’s family members have been camping in Chennai and have appealed to Ms. J. Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, to intercede for his early release.

On Monday, April 23, the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu urged Manmohan SinghPrime Minister of India, to take immediate steps to ensure his safe release since the family members of Alex Paul Menon were very worried about his safety and health and were fervently looking for good news.

Expressing confidence that the Union Home Ministry would have already taken steps to ensure the safe release of Menon, she said, “It is very unfortunate that the officer was abducted while he was discharging his official duties.”

Expressing confidence that the Union Home Ministry would have already taken steps to ensure the safe release of Menon, the CM said that since the officer was not keeping well, his family members were worried about his safety.

Mr. M Karunanidhi, chief of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, issued a statement, wherein he has asked that the Centre provide all necessary help to the Chhattisgarh government to ensure safety and early release of the abducted official.

The State unit of BJP insisted that the Centre should take necessary steps to curtail such violent acts with an iron hand. Pon Radhakrishnan, Tamilnadu state president of the party said that abduction and killing of officials had become a trivial matter for Maoists. He said that his party wanted the Centre and the Chattisgarh government to take the necessary measures for the release of the abducted District Collector of Sukma.

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