Chennai: The official claim of having conducted a mandatory three-stage emergency drill at Nakkaneri hamlet, situated within 7 km from the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli district, on June 9 was termed 'a blatant lie' by the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), which sent a fact-finding team to the place on June 13 and 20, after the villagers denied the version of the authorities.
No drill was conducted and the people of Nakkaneri were surprised to read about it in the newspapers the next day, the PUCL said, and accused the district administration of spreading falsehood through the media.
Announcing the findings in Chennai on Saturday, the team members said that they spoke to 22 people, including senior citizens and panchayat officials, and learnt that on June 9, a team of about 40 policemen had landed at the village, blocking the roads and checking a few vehicles before dispersing in the evening.
The next day, a press note was released saying an offsite emergency drill was held successfully in Nakkaneri. PUCL national secretary P Suresh said that the offsite emergency preparedness exercise was mandatory to get clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to load fuel into the reactor.
It may be recalled that the agitation at Idinthakarai, which started in August 2011, was triggered by an emergency drill as it caused panic among the people.
The team obtained written affidavits from the villagers they spoke to. S Balamurugan, state secretary of the PUCL and a member of the team, said, "When we met the KKNPP station director Sundar, he said that he did not go to the village on the day of the drill." "Only my department personnel went there. We only provided logistics support to the administration. So, if you have any queries, you may please contact the district administration," he quoted Sundar.
"When we met the Collector, he asked us to meet the sub-collector. The sub-collector said that since the collector had given the press note, he was not supposed to explain," he also said.