Seeking to allay fears, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that the Centre will give full regard to "safety, livelihood and security of the people" while implementing the Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project.
Singh, in a letter to the Jayalalithaa, listed out series of safety measures and clearances obtained for KNPP and said that he counted on her support in timely implementation of the project.
Pitching for pursuing the atomic power, he said, "Nuclear energy is one option to enhance our energy security. The Central Government will ensure that this is pursued with full regard to the safety, livelihood and security of the people."
"For a large and fast growing economy like ours, and given the volatility and uncertainty of international energy markets, it is in our national interest that we tap all sources of energy, and diversify our energy mix," he said.
Noting that "understandable concerns" were being expressed about nuclear safety after the Fukushima accident, Singh said the Centre was "fully alive" to it has sought to actively reach out to local populations at different nuclear power sites and to other sections of society to ally such fears.
"The safety track record of our nuclear power plants over the past 335 reactor-years of operation has been good," he said pointing out that he had ordered safety reviews of all nuclear power plants after the Fukushima accident.
"While these safety reviews have reaffirmed our ability to handle emergency situations, further recommendations have been made to augment safety. All the recommendations are being implemented," Singh said.
Singh said his government attached the highest importance to ensuring that the use of nuclear energy in India met the highest safety standards.
"We will not compromise on safety in the pursuit of our nuclear energy programme, whether it is in terms of technology, regulation, skilled manpower or emergency preparedness. Nothing will be done that would threaten the safety or livelihood of our people," he said.
Singh said the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited has been in close contact with the local community at Kudankulam for a decade now.
"A number of welfare projects have been implemented in the areas of education, roads, drinking water, health and community support.
Local officials have also been kept fully involved in these efforts," he said. Singh said following the Fukushima accident, NPCIL has enhanced its public awareness activities to address the concerns of the local people, and to highlight the superior safety features built into the Kudankulam reactors.
The prime minister said the Centre has also introduced the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill 2011 in Lok Sabha, with the objective of setting up an autonomous and independent regulatory authority that will subsume the current Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
"This Authority will ensure the highest standards of safety based on scientific approach, operating experience and best practices," Singh said.