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Expert group on Kudankulam N-power plant

New Delhi: To assuage the fears of the locals and the Tamil Nadu government, the Centre today announced setting up of a 15-member group of experts over the Kudankulam nuclear plant project. "We have set up a 15-member group of experts," officials said here.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last night said that the committee promised by him to convince stakeholders in the Kudankulam nuclear power project would be set up today. The group of experts from various disciplines such as radiation safety, reactor safety, oncology, fisheries and nuclear waste management will interact with the local population in and around Kudanakulam where two 1000 MW nuclear power plants built with Russian collaboration are in advanced stages of completion.

The project has run into a rash of protests as it approaches final stages of commissioning with concerns being raised over environmental impact and fears of radiation in the wake of the Fukushima accident in Japan.

Singh had regretted that his letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on the subject had not reached her, an issue on which she had criticised him. "Well I am sorry. I have seen that comment," he had said when pointed out that Jayalalithaa had stated that she had not received any letter from the Prime Minister about which she had read in newspapers. At the same time, he had said, "I do feel that we can give reasonable satisfaction to all the stakeholders who are worried about the safety of the atomic energy plant at Kudankulam."

Blaming the Centre`s "inaction" for the stalemate over the plant issue, Jayalalithaa had said that her government was firm on suspension of the work on the controversial project till people`s concerns were addressed.  The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had slammed the Centre for doing little to allay the fears of the locals who have threatened to intensify their agitation demanding closure of the venture citing safety concerns.

She had also taken exception to Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanswamy`s statement that the Centre was still awaiting state government`s response on the composition of the expert committee, which the Prime Minister had promised to send to allay the fears of the locals, causing delay.

Narayanaswamy had said that the Centre would also seek the "guidance" of former President A P J Abdul Kalam on ways to dispel the apprehensions of the people over the KNPP project. "The Centre`s expert group, comprising scientists from the environment, nuclear and ocean fields, will be set up after the Prime Minister`s return from South Africa. It will be a neutral body and there will not be any representative from the Atomic Energy Commission," Naryanaswamy had said.

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