Buckling under pressure

The Karnataka government has joined in the vociferous opposition to the Kaiga nuclear power plant, under pressure from political parties and environmental groups. Deputy chief minster S M Krishna said the state government will urge Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao to suspend work on the plant in Uttara Kannada district, until the submission of the reports of the 2 expert committees set up to probe into the collapse of the dome of Unit 1 of the power plant on May 13 this year. The committees were set up by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, which owned and operated the plant.

Krishna's statement came in response to fears of the local population about the safety of the plant, raised in the state Assembly by R V Deshpande, Janata Dal member from Uttara Kannada district. The nuclear establishment, however, asserted that the damage was insignificant and the plant can be commissioned by 1996 as per schedule. "The enquiry was progressing well and it would not be difficult to take up rectification," says A N Prasad, director, Babha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay.