Environmental and anti-nuclear activists who had been opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) on Thursday rallied against the project, armed with the latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) that found a number of deficiencies in the execution and commissioning of Units I and II of KKNPP, resulting in cost over-run of thousands of crores. Upping the ante once again, the activists have demanded thorough review of both the units and impartial inquiry into the project, since it involves the safety of thousands of people. CAG had in its report pointed out deficiencies such as avoidable payment of interest on borrowings, non-transparency in availing loans, lapses in the tariff-fixation process, extending undue benefits to overseas collaborating partner, non-assessment of required manpower with consequent avoidable expenditure, inadequate monitoring and start of commercial operation before getting the required licence to operate from the competent authority. SP Udayakumaran, who spearheaded a relentless fight against the project as the face of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMNAE) and also coordinator at Pachai Tamizhagam, has demanded that the prime minister order an impartial inquiry into “this most corrupt, most incorrigible and most deadly project”. “Dear PM, please say something about the damaging CAG report on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) units I and II. As the atomic energy minister, you cannot and should not continue to be silent like this.
This has to do with the safety and security of millions of Tamils and Malayalis. If you think we are also Indian citizens, you and your government should break your deafening silence and order an impartial inquiry into this most corrupt, most incorrigible and most deadly project,” he said in its Facebook post. Unit I and Unit II of KKNPP started commercial operations after a delay of 86 months and 101 months, respectively. The delays were primarily due to shifting of work from Russian scope to Indian scope, in execution of work and in submission of working documents/supply of equipment/materials by Atomstroyexport (ASE), delays due to design changes, erection delays and additional works. The audit findings pointed out that the scheduled date of completion was postponed from October 30, 2007 to December 31, 2011 for Unit I and from October 30, 2008 to December 31, 2012 for Unit II, due to delayed completion of different activities, of which many were attributable to ASE, a company responsible for undertaking the Russian scope of work. Poovulagu Nanbargal, an organisation that had filed several petitions against the commissioning of the plant, said that the CAG report on Kudankulam confirms the worst fears highlighted by the struggling people. “In fact NPCIL has started the commercial operation without getting the nod from competent authority. It was pointed out by various experts that Kudankulam will definitely be a threat to entire south India. We want complete and thorough independent review of units I and II technically and financially and the expansion to be shelved for ever,” it said. The audit by CAG was conducted to assess whether Nuclear Power Corporation of India exercised prudent financial management in the construction and commissioning of Units I and II and implemented the project in an efficient manner.