11 November 2011

Kalpakkam - PIL to implement Disaster Management Guidelines of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies

In the High Court of Judicature at Madras
(Special Original Jurisdiction)

W.P. No.  26097 of 2011

M.Vetri Selvan
No.300/183, 2nd Floor,
Thambu Chetty Street,
Chennai. 600 001                                                               .. Petitioner


1. Union of India
rep. by the Secretary
Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block
Central Secretariat
New Delhi 110 001

2. Union of India
represented by the Secretary
Department of Atomic Energy
Anushakti Bhavan
Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Marg
Mumbai 400 001

3.National Disaster Management Authourity 
rep. by the Chairman
NDMA Bhavan
A-1, Safdajung Enclave
New Delhi

4. State of Tamil Nadu
rep. by the Chief Secretary
Chennai   600 009

5.  The Principal Secretary/Commissioner
Revenue Administration
Disaster Management and Mitigation
Ezhilagam Building, Chepauk,
 Chennai 600 005

6.  The District Collector
Kancheepuram 631 501                                           … Respondents                                           


I, M.Vetri Selvan, S/o S.Muthuraj, aged about  29 years, residing at No.32, KVB Garden, R.A.Puram, Chennai 600 028 do hereby on solemn affirmation state as under:

1..    I am the petitioner herein.  I am conversant with the facts of the case.  I am competent to file this affidavit. 

2..    I state that I am an advocate having a standing of more than five years. I am also actively associated with  “Poovulagin Nanbargal”, a registered public trust working for the protection of environment and forests. I am initiating this Public Interest Litigation in discharge of my fundamental duties under Article 51-A (g),   (h) and (j) of the Constitution.    This public interest litigation questions the failure of the respondents to implement the Guidelines on Management of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies with regard to Madras Atomic Power Station, Kalpakkam, Kancheepuram District.

3.         I state that the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) is located  at Kalpakkam,  about 70 kms  from Chennai City.  The power station consists of two units viz.   MAPS-1 and MAPS-2. MAPS-1 AND MAPS-2 went critical in 1983 and 1985 respectively.  At Kalpakkam, there are seven nuclear organizations including MAPS viz. Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (HQ), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, PFBR Project (IGCAR), Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Plant (BARC), Kalpakkam Fuel Reprocessing Plant (BARC) and General Services Organisation.  Presently, the MAPS produces 440 MW of electricity from the two reactors.  It is learnt that the Union of India has plans for an additional 500 MW capacity in MAPS. 

4.            I state that on 26 March 1999 there was Heavy water leaks in MAPS and seven people received a full radiation dose. According to Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, in the early 1980s, the discovery of some pieces of zircalloy in a moderator pump in MAPS Unit 1 was traced to the problem of substantial crackingof the reactor inlet manifold and an identical problem surfaced in MAPS-2 also almost during the same period and that the synergy of different kinds of serious safety issues in MAPS 1 and 2 put the station at a higher risk than acceptable anywhere else in the world.  

Frontline, a fortnightly in English, (March 16-23, 1999) reported  about Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan’s view about the said heavy water leak in MAPS:  “Gopalakrishnan said that going by the initial estimates given by MAPS, several tones, possibly 14 tonnes, of heavy water leaked out.  “For this number the declaration of a plant emergency makes sense,” he said.  “You will not declare a plant emergency if just one bucketful of heavy water leaks or about 10 workers are concerned.  A very large amount must have gone into the drain and spread out.  The (tritium) release must have also been sucked into the ventilation system.”  It reports further:  “Tritium is highly radioactive, with a half-life of over 12 years.  Tritium content in heavy water increases with the number of years the reactor operates.  Almost all the tritium continues to be in the heavy water even if the reactor is shut down for a couple of months.  When there is a spillage of heavy water, the tritium affects the plant personnel.”  Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, on account of the fact that micro-cracks in the coolant tubes would ultimately lead to a fire in the reactor, expressed great concern about the workers also.  The report says: “He demanded that personnel in MAPS be given the data on the release of radiation and be told how much radiation they had ingested.  He said that he was deeply concerned about the use of contract labour for cleaning jobs because they were often overexposed to radiation.”

5.       I state that even after such caution by the former Chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, there were two more incidents in 2001 and 2002.  On 30 May 2001, one Mr.S. Sivakumar, a worker, suffered internal contamination after a neoprene glove was punctured.  On 7 July 2002, one Selvakumar, a worker, burnt his left hand after he picked up a radioactive substance.  Moreover, as reported in Tehelka (2010), the General Secretary of the BARC Facilities Employees Association in his letter dated 24 January 2003 addressed to the Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) recounted in detail a significant nuclear accident that took place on 21 January 2003 at MAPS where one worker named Raju and 5 others including a woman were exposed to high levels of radiation.  After about eight months of the accident, Mr.B. Bhattacharjee, then Director of BARC, termed it “the worst accident in India’s nuclear history.”

6.            I state that an  estimated 30,000 workers live in the five villages that fall within the 5 km radius from MAPS.  There is a DAE township which accommodates thousands of permanent workers and their families.  Within the 16 km to 20 km radius from MAPS, there are about 60 villages where more than 1 lakh people live.  Since plant operations begain in the early 1980s, incidents of cancer and auto-immune thyroid diseases in the surrounding villages have increased.  A contract labour’s three year old child has been diagnosed with retinoblastoma or cancer of eyes.  Radiation from the nuclear plant is responsible for the child’s condition, doctors say.  Life of thousands of innocent people living in the villages which are within the radius of about 16 km to 20 km  from MAPS is at stake.  Considering the fact that nuclear emergencies can arise due to factors beyond the control of the operating agencies  e.g. human error, system, failure, sabotage, earthquake, cyclone, flood etc., the National Disaster Management Authority has assumed the responsibility of strengthening the existing nuclear/radiological emergency management framework by framing fresh guidelines on Management of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies.  Radiological emergencies at nuclear installations are mainly of four categories:  Plant Emergency Alert, Plant Emergency, Site Emergency and Off-site Emergency.  The Operating Organisation is responsible for handling Plant Emergency Alert, Plant Emergency and Site Emergency.  Off-site emergency involving radiation fallout in the public domain is handled by state public authorities with technical input and guidance from the Operating Organisation and the Regulatory Body.

7.         I state that the National Disaster Management Guidelines on Management of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies (for short, the Guidelines) deserve to be implemented in the light of the objects sought to be achieved by the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (for short, the Act). Under Section 6 of the Act, the National Disaster Management Authority is required to take all measures for the prevention of disaster or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with the threatening disaster situation or disaster.  It is incumbent upon the National Authority to coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plan for disaster management. The Executive Summary of the Guidelines says that the guidelines related to capacity development through education and awareness generation, training and community participation etc. for upgradation of human resources, establishment of critical infrastructure like expansion of the network of Emergency Response Centres, communication systems, strengthening of regulatory framework and emergency medical preparedness including formation of Quick Reaction Medical Teams etc. should be implemented by December 2010.  However, the respondents have not even implemented the Guidelines regarding “Medical Preparedness” which is an essential component of nuclear disaster/radiological emergency/disaster preparedness.  Hence this Writ Petition in public interest on the following ground:


         It is submitted that paragraph 6.13 (viii) of the Guidelines says:”The existing medical facilities and medical professionals are highly inadequate to handle large-scale radiation injury cases in the country.  These are to be augmented by MoH&FW in consultation with DAE at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, in addition to their proper networking to cope with the needs of a large-scale nuclear emergency.”  Paragraph 6.13 (ix) says: “The district health authorities will constitute QRMTs for pre-hospital care.  The team consisting of RSOs, medical doctors, nurses and paramedical staff would be equipped with monitoring instruments/equipment, protective gear, decontamination agents and other material.  Critical care vans with resuscitation and life support systems will be part of QRMTs/MFRs.  The QRMT/MFR teams will form part of the regular mock-drill/simulation exercise/tabletop exercise conducted by DDMAs.”  

Appendix 4  to the Guidelines captioned “Medical Preparedness” speaks about Creation of Decontamination Room, Nuclear Ward fitted with Dust-Filter, Radioactive Bio-Waste Disposal Facilities, Radio Bio-Dosimetry Laboratory, Haematology Laboratory, Genetic Laboratory, Molecular Laboratory, Immunology Laboratory,  and Bone Marrow Bank, Bone Marrow Transfusion and Stem Cell Harvesting Facilities in the earmarked hospital.  The respondents have not earmarked any hospital with the aforesaid facilities which will be used by those affected by radiation due to the operation of MAPS. 

The respondents have not established  near MAPS any Specialised Medical Stores consisting of Amifostine and other radio protectors, de-corporation agents like Diethylene Triamine-PentaAcetate (DTPA) and Prussian Blue), Potassium lodide, growth factors, colony stimulating factors, and other radiation recovery agents, as required by the Guidelines relating to Medical Preparedness. The respondents have not established any Research and Treatment Centre near MAPS with sufficient number of beds to take care of any type of nuclear emergency/disaster, as required by the Guidelines.  

Though the Guidelines say that such centres should be established in at least four geographically well-separated locations near the high-risk areas/zones, the respondents have not taken any efforts to implement the Guidelines.  The respondents have not fulfilled the specific requirements of a nuclear emergency communication system as mandated by the Guidelines. Thus, the respondents have grossly failed to implement Chapter 6 of the Guidelines relating to Medical Preparedness.  This failure of the respondents would be violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.     

8.    I state that I have no equally efficacious alternative remedy but to approach the Hon'ble Court by way of this writ petition.

9.    I state that I have not filed any other petition in this Hon'ble Court or any other Court regarding the subject matter of this writ petition.

10.    I state that I have no personal interest in the case.  I have earlier filed a couple of public interest litigations viz. WP No. 14866/2009 decided on 22.07.2010 by the Hon’ble the Chief Justice and the Hon’ble Justice T.S.Sivagnanam (M.Vetri Selvan Vs. Union of India and others : 2010 (4) CTC 465 and W.P. No. 19192 of 2010 decided on 16.11.2010., decided by Hon’ble the Chief Justice and the Hon’ble Justice T.S.Sivagnanam.  I have also filed WP No. 8034/ 2011 decided on 01.04.2011 by the  Hon’ble the Chief Justice and the Hon’ble Justice T.S.Sivagnanam (M.Vetri Selvan Vs. Union of India and others : 2011 (3) CTC 785.  I undertake to pay the costs, if any, if this PIL is found to be intended for personal gain or oblique motive.  I have filed this petition from my own funds.  To my knowledge, no PIL arising on the issue raised in this petition has been filed anywhere.  On 15.4.2011 and 17.4.2011 I visted Kalpakkam Township and talked to the residents and also visited the Department of Atomic Energy Hospital located in the township.  On 18.6.2011 I visited Sadhurangapattinam and Koovathur villages which are within the radius of 10 km from MAPS and saw for myself that the Primary Health Centres did not have any facilities for treating those affected by radiation.    I verified the facts regarding inadequacy of medical facilities to treat the radiation-affected persons by having discussions with doctors working in Mamallapuram,  and Thirukazhukundram,(within a radius of 25 kms from MAPS)  and also the doctors of Government General Hospital, Chennai.  This public interest litigation is maintainable in law. The contents of this paragraph are in compliance with the Rules to regulate the Public Interest Litigations filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Solemnly affirmed at Chennai                                                       Before me
this the 10th November 2011
and signed his name in my
                                                                                  Advocate, Chennai

In the High Court of Judicature at Madras
(Special Original Jurisdiction)

W.P. No.  26097   of 2011

M.Vetri Selvan
No.300/183, 2nd Floor,
Thambu Chetty Street,
Chennai. 600 001                                                                  .. Petitioner


1 Union of India
rep. by the Secretary
Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block
Central Secretariat
New Delhi 110 001  & 5 Others                                            … Respondent


1..    The address for service of the petitioner is that of his counsel  M.Radhakrishnan, Advocate,  134, Thambu Chetty Street, Chennai. 600 001.

2..    The address for service on the respondent is as stated above.

    For the reasons stated in the accompanying affidavit, it is prayed that the Hon'ble Court be pleased to issue a WRIT OF  MANDAMUS directing the respondents to implement Chapter 6 of National Disaster Management Guidelines on Management of Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies relating to Medical Preparedness in and around the Madras Atomic Power Station, Kalpakkam, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu within a reasonable time as may be determined by the Hon’ble Court, and thus render justice.

Dated at Chennai, this the 10th day of November  2011

Counsel for  the petitioner


  1. is it proper to reside in koovathur village

  2. I too support you....