Pechiparai Water Must be Protected from Koodankulam: PMANE

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) April 2, 2012
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073

Press Release

Tamil Nadu Assembly Should Pass Resolution to Protect Pechiparai Water from Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project

According to newspaper reports dated February 19, 2012, the Public Works Department (Water Resource Organisation) of the Government of Tamil Nadu has prepared a Rs.83-crore project proposal for the renovation of Pechipparai dam and Rs.5 crore is going to be spent for desilting the dam. A Congress Party MLA from Vilavancode constituency has claimed last week that Rs. 4.75 crore has already been allotted for the renovation of the dam as per the long-pending demand of the local farmers. The timing of this plan, and the cunning pro-farmer claims of Congress politicians make one wonder if there is a secret plot to divert water from the Pechiparai dam to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).
The 42-feet high Pechiparai dam was opened in 1906 and feeds some 50,000 acres of paddy crop in the fertile Kanyakumari district. When the KKNPP officials had tried to utilize Pechiparai water for their nuclear project, there was a huge uproar against the plan in Kanyakumari district. And ever since the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) authorities and the State and Central government officials have been reassuring the local people that Pechiparai water would never be taken for the Koodankulam project.
However, it is important to note that pipelines have been laid all over Kanyakumari district and two such lines have been extended all the way up to the coastal villages of Kanyakumari and Kovalam. They can be extended to Koodankulam at a very short notice. The doubt if the Pechiparai dam water would be taken to the KKNPP has raised its head once again as the Government of Tamil Nadu has decided all of a sudden to renovate and desilt the dam at a huge expense after its recent U-turn on the Koodankulam project.
There have been several references to the Pechiparai dam water in the planning and execution of the KKNPP project:

[1] A leading English daily reported as far back as on August 29, 2000: “To another query on the dependence of potable water for cooling the reactors, Mr. Chaturvedi [the then chairman and managing director of NPCIL] said though about 3.5 cusecs of water was likely to be drawn from the Pechiparai reservoir, the authorities would make alternative arrangements such as sinking bore wells and installing desalination plants.”

[2] The “Comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment” for the Koodankulam projects (prepared by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) states very clearly on pages 2.35 and 2.36 (under Chapter 2.3 – Water Environment, Subheading 2.3.2 Water Requirement): “Fresh water from Pechipparai dam, which is about 65 Kms NW of the project site, is proposed to be used for meeting various water demands. The quantities of fresh water for various purposes are as follows:

Domestic use: 414 m3/day
Service Water: 480 m3/day
Fire Water Make-Up: 500 m3/day
Chemical Water Treatment
(Process Water for proposed 4 units): 19200 m3/day”

The report further states that “For meeting fresh water demands, water from Pechipparai dam will be brought to the site through embedded pipeline.” The above breakdown amounts to 20,594 m3 water per day and this much water is used only for four nuclear power plants. If and when all the planned eight power plants start functioning in Koodankulam, some 41,000 m3 water would be required per day.

[3] In an article entitled “The VVERs at KudanKulam” (published in Nuclear Engineering and Design, 236, 2006), Mr. S. K. Agrawal, the former Koodankulam project director and the director (projects) of NPCIL, and his co-authors state very clearly on page 835: “The requirements of fresh water are very small and will be drawn from the Pechiparai Reservoir. The fresh water requirements will thus not affect the drinking water and agricultural needs of the local population.” This article confirms the Pechiparai water usage detailed in the “Comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment.”

Given this situation of contradictory claims and confusing stands of the nuclear authorities and the State and Central governments, the Tamil Nadu Assembly should pass a resolution that the Pechiparai dam water will never be taken for the Kooddankulam nuclear power project. If the authorities have really decided against taking Pechiparai water for the Koodankulam plants, they should prepare a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that details the fresh water sources for the Koodankulam plants.

Some people have suggested utilizing the Pazhayar river water from Kanyakumari district for the KKNPP project. It is pertinent to note that eleven dams have already been built across the Pazhayar to feed 13,000 acres of double crop paddy lands.

The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)




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