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India's Supreme Court gives go ahead for nuclear plant

Unit set to start this month despite objections reporter, New Delhi

May 6, 2013

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The Supreme Court of India on Monday gave the go ahead for a new nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, south India, ending a legal challenge to the facility and years of protests.

Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra said the project was vital for the country’s economic growth and that a balance had to be struck with concerns over the project, including environmental and human health fears in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The ruling came in response to petitions filed in September last year by anti-nuclear activists, including that of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which has been spearheading the campaign against the Koodankulam nuclear plant.

S. Uday Kumar, a PMANE leader, described the judgment as "disappointing" and said, "everyone in the country seemed to be only interested in nuclear energy and development and not in human lives."

Tamil Nadu fishermen, who form the majority of the population in the plant's vicinity, are worried that the nuclear plant will adversely affect marine life and hence their livelihood. Protests have broken out over the project in the past.

The federal government-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is building two 1,000-megaatt nuclear power plants for US$3 billion with Russian investors. The plant was scheduled to start in December 2011.

"The first unit of the Koodankulam project is expected to start operations later this month," said V Narayanasamy, federal junior minister.

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