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Rights activists plan to move SC against nuclear power plants project

Rights activists plan to move SC against nuclear power plants project

KARACHI: After taking the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) to court against the construction of two nuclear power plants in October 2014 and for not conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), rights activists have planned to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the same issue, it emerged on Thursday.

Barrister Salahuddin Ahmad, who is currently preparing the draft of a petition, confirmed the development. “We are still working on the draft that is going to be based on basic questions such as safety guidelines and evacuation process in case of an accident at the site; the site’s proximity to the city. Any pre-planning the PAEC has done in this regard would help us understand the situation on ground,” added Barrister Ahmad.

He, however, didn’t mention the names of his client as the case is still being drafted.
Petition being drafted to seek safety guidelines, evacuation plan in case of accident

With assistance coming largely from the Chinese government, the $10 billion project was given a green light by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2013. The project includes the construction of two power plants, K-II and K-III, at Paradise Point. The reactors will be provided by China National Nuclear Corporation on a design known as ACP-1000.

The rights activists said the design had not been experimented in China or anywhere else in the world and showed their concern over its sustainability and maintenance.

In response to the objections, the PAEC last year argued that Kanupp, where the two nuclear power plants were under construction, was a “gift from Canada to Pakistan in the 1970s and was never tried before as well”.

For the past two and a half years, a debate over the construction of the two plants in Karachi resulted in multiple meetings and pressers called by the civil rights groups and the PAEC against and in favour of the project.

The SHC earlier restrained the PAEC from carrying out construction work at the site without adhering to environmental laws and rejected the EIA report provided by Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) in October 2014. Last year, the SHC ruled in favour of the petitioners but provided a concession to the PAEC to continue with the Non-Essential Construction (NEC) such as the construction of roads near the site and workers’ housing, added one of the petitioners, Architect Arif Bilgaumi.

On April 11, 2015, Sepa placed an advertisement in dailies about a public hearing on the project, he said, adding that the hearing was held at the Kanupp site on April 27. “Their general argument revolved around the claim that they reviewed the issues raised by civil rights groups and found no problems at all,” said Mr Bilgaumi. Soon after the hearing, Sepa announced the formation of a review committee.

Shehri, an advocacy group focused on environment and infrastructural issues in Karachi, wrote a letter to Sepa asking them to name the experts who were part of the committee constituted by it. But, he said, Sepa didn’t share details of the meeting, while the committee met, reviewed the case and passed the project without providing a “rationale for their decision”.

He added that the activists didn’t challenge the case on technical grounds rather pushed for an EIA and public hearing. Although the EIA and public hearing were done eventually, rights activists were not satisfied with the explanations given and decided to pursue the case in the SC.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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