No nuke secrets with missing Kaiga scientist: officials (Lead)

June 12th, 2009 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Kaiga (Karnataka)/Bangalore, June 12 (IANS) Lokanath Mahalingam, the senior scientific officer of the state-run Kaiga atomic power plant in coastal Karnataka who is missing since Monday, had no access to sensitive documents or nuclear secrets, top officials said Friday.
“There is no sensitive and strategic information with him,” G. Nageshwara Rao, director of operations of Nuclear Power Corporation of India that operates atomic powers plants in the country, told reporters at Kaiga, 500 km from Bangalore.

“Mahalingam was in charge of training the new recruits,” Rao added.

V.V. Sanath Kumar, director of the Kaiga power plant, asserted there was no fear of Mahalingam being kidnapped for possessing nuclear secrets.

Mahalingam, a 47-year-old mechanical engineering graduate, was working in the simulation training centre at the power plant.

Mahalingam, who hails from Chennai, left home in the Kaiga township Monday morning for a walk. There has been no trace of him since then. His wife Vinayakar Sundari lodged the missing-person complaint with police Monday evening.

Rao flew down from Mumbai, the headquarters of NPC, to address the press along with Sanath Kumar in the wake of speculation in a section of the media that Mahalingam was a top nuclear scientist with knowledge of nuclear secrets because of which he might have been kidnapped.

The Uttara Kannada district police, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which guards the Kaiga power plant, and forest department officials have been searching for Mahalingam since Tuesday.

“We’re yet to get any information about Mahalingam. The search is on,” Uttara Kannada district superintendent of police Raman Gupta said.

Kaiga township is surrounded by the 1,000-acre Mallapur forest, where police have been carrying on their search operation.

Due to seasonal heavy rains, police personnel are finding it hard to negotiate a swelling Kali river in the Western Ghats, adjoining the township.

The police had already searched in the 100-acre Kaiga township but failed to trace Mahalingam.

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