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U.S. has no objection to India's civil nuke programme: Envoy

Guwahati , Sat, 25 Feb 2012 ANI

Guwahati, Feb.25 (ANI): U.S. Ambassador to India Peter Burleigh on Saturday said that Washington has no objection to India's civilian nuclear programmes.


Burleigh was reacting to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that US-based NGOs are funding anti-nuclear protests in Tamil Nadu.


Describing the relationship between India and the United States as growing at all levels, Burleigh said: "The Government of U.S. has certainly no objection with regard to nuclear programmes. US is also involved in potential participation in the civilian nuclear programme. Indo-US relationship is growing in every sense at all levels. Relationship has been cordial. We want American companies to be here."


Burleigh's statement came two days after Prime Minister Singh told NDTV's Science Editor Pallava Bagla during an interview for the Science magazine, that: "What"s happening in Kudankulam...the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don't appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply."


The Prime Minister has also blamed these NGOs for opposing genetically modified foods and the use of biotechnology to increase food production in the country.


"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. 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," Dr Singh said.


The Rs.13, 000-crore Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) is located in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.


Being built with Russian collaboration, the plant is expected to provide energy-starved India respite from power shortage.


The Indo-Russian nuclear plant joint venture, however, has run into trouble, with activists and locals staging massive protests citing safety concerns in the wake of the Fukushima disaster that took place in Japan on March 11, 2011.


The frequent protests have stalled the commissioning of two 1000-megawatt nuclear reactors.


Several rounds of talks between a Central Government-appointed expert panel and representatives of villagers opposing the plant have failed to end the standoff.


The villagers say they fear for their lives and their safety in case of a nuclear accident, as also concerns over the long-term impact it would have on the population in the area.


Worried over the scale of protests against the plant, the Prime Minister had urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to support the project and had assured her that no safety features would be compromised at the plant.


While international experts have signed off on the facilities of the plant, deeming them strong enough to withstand an earthquake or a tsunami, the country"s nuclear watchdog - the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board - has suggested that more security checks are needed at the plant. (ANI)


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