SC moved for staying Kudankulam’s 1989 environmental clearance

September 21st, 2012 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court was moved Friday for staying the environmental clearance given to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in 1989 as this was not in conformity with the prevailing requirements of environmental clearances.

The petitioner, IT professional G. Sundarrajan, in his interim prayer sought grant of “ad-interim injunction staying the environmental clearance of the KKNPP Unit 1 & 2″.

“That the nuclear power project that has enormous environmental impact cannot be allowed to proceed and operate without a proper environmental clearance and without following the mandate of the law,” Sunderrajan said in his public interest litigation (PIL).

Seeking to stall the commissioning of the KNPP, the petition that the “environmental clearance given in 1989 reads like a formality with no proper application of mind”.

“The conditions”, the petition further said, “imposed are vague and merely amount to saying 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 environmental impact assessment (EIA) study and at that time, (1989) the site of the plant had not been fixed, the petition said.

Sundarrajan has challenged the Madras High Court order dismissing his petition and holding that no fresh environmental clearance was required for Kudankulam nuclear power plants and the clearance given as far back as in 1989 by ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) stood valid even today.

The petition said that the high court ignored the law that any expansion or modernization of a project requires a fresh environmental clearance and the earlier clearance is valid only for five years.

“The Minister of State in the PMO had clearly told Parliament that construction only started in 2002 and the reactors being used have been made in 2006. This is also confirmed by the affidavit filed by AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) before the High Court,” the petition said.

It further said that high court had ignored that since 1989, enormous changes have taken place in environmental norms and a nuclear plant - which has enormous environmental impact - must be judged by the law of the land as it existed today.

The petition said that at the time of 1989 environmental clearance there was no CRZ (coastal regulation zone) notification (1991), no mandatory public hearing notification (1994) and there was no system of EIA reports.

The petition said that since 1989, there were enormous changes in the original plan following the signing of a fresh agreement with Russia in 1998.

Two most significant changes included that spent fuel rods which were earlier to go back to Russia would remain at the site of the plant.

Besides this, instead of taking fresh water for the plant from the dam as was originally envisaged, now four desalination plants were being constructed and fresh water requirement was being met through sea-water.

The petition said that high court ignored that the only significant condition imposed by environment ministry in 1989 that the change in sea-water temperature must not exceed 5 degrees Celsius, was being violated by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, which has now said that they intend to reach 7 degrees Celsius.

“This was a brazen violation of the 1989 condition being condoned by the MOEF,” the petition said.

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