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Monday, September 24, 2012

Stalling Kudankulam - Sydney monorail stops due to power outage

Comparisons could be invidious !  Safety is everybody’s concern – one must take precautions but avoiding or stalling some project can never be construed as a safety measure. 

The good news is that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has begun loading enriched uranium fuel rods in the first reactor of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) following a green signal from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).   There is news that  the Board granted its final approval for loading of 163 fuel assemblies containing about 80 tonnes of low enriched uranium fuel on Tuesday evening, after the NPCIL had fulfilled all the stipulated conditions.  It is stated that the Unit could go into operation in about three to four months after several rounds of tests.

The nuclear plant, with two units of 1,000 MW capacity each, built with Russian collaboration has been impeded at various levels, mainly due to the protests organized from religious precincts of Idinthakarai, by a group allegedly receiving vast foreign donations. A group has been manipulating and fighting with diversionary tactics and have threatened invasion in to the plant itself.  In earlier stages, they ridiculed the most respected President APJ questioning his knowledge and sincerity and recently, they organized a protest at sea, which reportedly took the security cordon by surprise.   The protestors wanted commissioning of the plant to be stalled and with this sole demand, a large number of fishermen sailed past the Tuticorin coast with a fleet of more than 700 boats in an attempt to lay siege to the approach channel of the V.O. Chidambaranar Port, condemning the Central and State governments for their stand on the issue.  They also demanded the withdrawal of the police force from Idinthakarai, withdrawal of cases registered against the protesters and relaxation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the Tirunelveli district administration.

One of their arguments is that a Nuclear power plant is risky and could cause trouble – the Govt. for sure have to address the concerns of the common public.  By the same yardstick, no group has the liberty to question the motives, ask for details that would affect the safety security of any plant – that the protesters demanded detailed plans of the plant does not augur well.  Many of them quote the accident at Fukushiuma reactor at Japan – there cannot be comparisons and the authorities have made it clear that safety has been accorded prime importance and foolproof measures have been taken.  The protesting group are not prepared to buy these and are keen on stalling the commissioning. 

There have been road, rail  and plane accidents but that never dithered people from travelling from place to place.  One has to address the problem areas, take safeguards – but ships can never be made to stay all the time in Port because they are safe over there ~ whatever be the risks, they have to venture in to the highseas, for ships are built to sail and not stay in Port.

This is no direct comparison but the news of rescue operation in Monorail at Sydney following a power outage makes an interesting read.

The Metro Monorail is a single-loop monorail in the city of Sydney, Australia, that connects Darling Harbour, Chinatown and the Sydney central business and shopping districts. There are eight stations on the 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) of track, with four trains operating simultaneously. It serves major attractions and facilities such as the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.  The train is run by electric power supplied at 500 V AC  via a sheathed conductor below the running plate of the track. A control rail is also provided for train control, and a generator is provided to clear trains from the track in emergencies. Each station stop takes 40 seconds, including the time to decelerate, board passengers, and accelerate again.

With all these, will the train suffer any trouble ? – can any system be fool-proof !!   It stopped midway caused by a fault in power cable,  leaving passengers high and dry.  One Monorail train set stopped between Darling Harbour and Chinatown. Another stopped near Sussex Street.   Firefighters, police and ambulance crews  were rushed to two monorail sites today [24th Sept. 12]  Some passengers were reported to be suffering from the heat inside the monorail cars which also lost air-conditioning when they stopped.  Two cherrypickers were brought in at the two sites, one at the corner of Day and Liverpool streets near Chinatown and the other on Darling Drive by the Darling Harbour convention centre.  The electricity provider says a fault on an underground cable caused the outage shortly before 2:00pm and power was restored about 4:45pm local time.  Newspaper reports suggest that  around 100 customers in Pyrmont and Darling Harbour were affected.

At 3.30pm, fewer than half the passengers on board had been removed from one train, stuck between Darling Harbour and Chinatown.  There reportedly  were a number of children on board, marking the first day of school holidays, but parents and grandparents said the mood remained calm.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Photos and news of Monorail –;
the Tuticorin port blockage photo courtesy


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