Is the state bracing itself for a Koodankulam-like protest in Kaiga? A controversy has been brewing ever since authorities decided to expand two more units at the Kaiga Generating Station (KGS), triggering fear and panic among residents. Anti-nuclear activists have been protesting against the addition of units 5 and 6, but the authorities have decided to go ahead with the construction. The latest is that it has been decided to hold a protest march in Yellapur on June 25.
Leading anti-nuclear activist Ananth Hegde Ashisar, also the chairman of Uttar Kannada district environment committee, said a meeting was held in the presence of Sonda Swarnavalli Samsthan’s seer Shri Gangadharendra Saraswathi Swamji. As a first step, a massive rally will be organised in Yellapur on June 25. A public meeting will be held where activists and experts from across the country are expected to talk about the dangers involved. Experts from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru too are slated to attend the event.
“Kaiga authorities have failed to publish the health survey report undertaken by Tata Research Institute, Mumbai. They have also decided to construct a third high-power line which will result in chopping around 1 lakh trees. In the 90s, they hacked around 2 lakh trees to set up two lines. We have also observed that the cancer rate is high in the 15-20-km radius of the plant. We have been fighting against this for the last 6-7 years and they are not willing to accept that they are responsible for this. Even the MoEF clearance is pending,” he said.
The construction of Units 5 and 6 at atomic power Station in Kaiga is expected to commence this year. The Centre recently gave nod to set up 10 units of the new indigenous 700 MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). Currently, there are 22 reactors under operation.
The new reactors are of significantly higher capacities compared to the PHWRs currently under operation — the standard PHWR being used in India is of 220 MWe though two 540 MWe reactors were installed in Tarapur in 2005 and 2006. The 10 reactors will be installed in Kaiga in Karnataka (Unit 5 and 6), Chutka in Madhya Pradesh (Unit 1 and 2), Gorakhpur in Haryana (Unit 3 and 4) and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan (Unit 1, 2, 3 and 4).
* When Koodankulam gained national attention
Koodankulam is the single-largest nuclear power station in the country, situated in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Construction on the plant began on 31 March 2002, but faced several delays due to opposition from local fishermen. In 2011, thousands from the vicinity of the plant protested against it, fearing a nuclear disaster
* Storm brewing
KGS is a nuclear power plant located in the Karwar district. Already operating three units, KGS turned the fourth unit critical in November 2010 and synchronised it to the grid in January 2011. KGS is operated by Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
* Why is the plant key for the state?
According to a source, KGS has already acquired land for the construction of two units, but will require land to erect transmission lines. Currently, Karnataka gets only 28 per cent of the entire power generated by these units and the rest is supplied to Goa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Karnataka is likely to get 50 per cent of the power generated once 5 and 6 Units are commissioned.