ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Not a Closed Chapter

Lack of transparency around the Koodankulam Nuclear Project should worry all of us.

With the first unit of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) attaining criticality on 13 July 2013, has the controversy surrounding it ended? The plant has begun functioning a full 25 years after the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi signed an intergovernmental agreement with the then president Mikhail Gorbachev to import a pair of VVER pressurised water reactors. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the construction of the reactors started only in September 2001. At that time, it was expected that they would be commissioned in the December of 2007 and 2008. That the first unit has only started functioning now, nearly six years after the initial deadline, is not unusual in itself given the record of time and cost overruns in the Nuclear Power Corporation’s operating reactors elsewhere.

It is also not surprising that people living in the vicinity of the plant opposed it from the very inception of the project because that has also been the case with all nuclear projects since the 1980s. What is unusual though is the scale of the opposition, with thousands of people engaging in a wide variety of creative protests even in the face of severe police repression, with a relay hunger strike that has lasted over 700 days, and with moral support from people around the world.

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