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Kalam: resolve Kudankulam politically
APJ Abdul Kalam has urged PM Manmohan Singh to resolve the Kudankulam row through political and strategic means.
Chennai: Former Indian president A P J Abdul Kalam has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resolve the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) row through political and strategic means by taking up the issue with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. He also urged Manmohan Singh to consider announcing a special economic package for Tamil Nadu for its integrated development from the unutilized fund allocated for the 11th Plan Period.
In his letter dated Dec 22, 2011, a copy of which is with IANS, Kalam has called upon the prime minister to "consider allotment of the full 1,000 MW generated from KNPP-1, which can be later adjusted towards the Tamil Nadu share in KNPP-2 to the rest of the country."
Speaking to IANS, V. Ponraj, advisor to Kalam, said: "The prime minister, in his reply, has said the government will look into the suggestions made by the former president." Ponraj said the total 11th Plan allocation to Tamil Nadu is Rs.107,000 crore out of which the state has utilized Rs.91,000 crore. The balance of Rs.16,000 crore is what Manmohan Singh has been requested to disburse to Tamil Nadu.
Stressing the importance of taking the state government into confidence, Kalam said: "It is essential to ... revive the operations of KNPP with the full support of the state government at the earliest. Hence it has to be dealt with strategically as well as politically, so that the country is able to realise the goals of Energy Independence by 2030."
India's atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW atomic power reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here.
Villagers of Kudankulam, Idinthakarai and others fear a nuclear accident. Their protests have halted the project work for more than three months, delaying the commissioning of the first unit and increasing the project cost from the budgeted Rs.13,171 crore.
"In spite of the sound safety principles on which KNPP has been established, there is continuing agitation. The Tamil Nadu government wants more to be done to allay the fears of the people of that region.
"I feel the more we delay in resolving the Kudankulam crisis, the more anti-nuclear energy sentiments in India will gain momentum," Kalam said in his letter.
According to Kalam, there is a need "to evolve a public policy for the development of the region where the nuclear reactor site is being located or selected. "Also, it is essential to overhaul the government mechanism of fast disbursement of compensation to the affected people due to project based relocation and rehabilitation provisions," the letter says.
Kalam also suggested that the central government and NPCIL should jointly implement the 10-point Kudankulam PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) programme by 2015. It involves an outlay of around Rs.200 crore and is aimed at benefiting Kudankulam and its 60 odd neighbouring villages.
Under the programme, Kalam has suggested linking all villages in and around a 30 km radius of Kudankulam through four-lane roads to the main four-lane road connecting Tirunelveli, Madurai and Kanyakumari.
He said various industries can be set up provide direct employment to at least 10,000 people. Bank loans with 25 percent subsidized interest may be offered for this purpose to the entrepreneurs. According to Kalam, people groups should be set up to develop relationship between the KNPP and the locals.
Kalam suggested setting up Disaster Management Centres at Kudankulam.