South Asia News
Indian premier blames US NGOs for row over nuclear plant
Feb 24, 2012, 13:15 GMT
New Delhi - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed groups in the United States for fuelling protests against a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu state, a news report said Friday.
'What's happening in Kudankulam ... the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs (non-governmental organizations), mostly I think based in the United States, don't appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply,' NDTV news channel quoted Singh as saying.
The Kudankulam power plant, being built with Russian assistance, has run into trouble, with local villagers and fishermen holding protests and blocking entry to the plant for more than a year.
They have expressed concern over safety and want the plant scrapped. The reactors are located on the coast, and villagers stepped up their agitation after the Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima began leaking radiation after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami last year.
The protests have delayed the commissioning of two 1000-MW reactors which were earlier scheduled to start functioning by December 2011.
V Narayanswamy, a junior minister attached to the prime minister's office, told reporters the government had received complaints that some non-governmental organizations in the area were violating norms laid down for the use of funds.
'People are being brought (to Kudankulam) from various areas by buses and trucks. The people who are agitating are spending a lot of money,' Narayanswamy said. 'The concern raised by the prime minister is correct.'
'We have received certain reports about NGOs funded by US and Scandinavian organisations in the Kudankulam project area violating norms,' Narayanswamy said.
He said the federal Home Ministry had investigated the financial records of 12 NGOs and cancelled the licences of three of them.
Singh, in the interview to NDTV's science editor for an issue of the international journal Science, also blamed NGOs for opposing use of genetically modified seeds and biotechnology to increase food production.
'Biotechnology has enormous potential and in due course of time we must make use of genetic engineering technologies to increase the productivity of our agriculture,' NDTV quoted Singh as saying.
'But there are controversies. There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces,' Singh said.