BY R. K. RADHAKRISHNAN/ The Hindu –
“What I said was Sri Lanka and India needed a common mechanism for disaster management”
Long after the controversy created by his remark on the safety of the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam has died down, Sri Lankan Electricity Minister Champika Ranawaka has blamed the Indian media for taking his comments out of context.
The Minister had stated that Sri Lanka would take up in the next session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the safety of the new Indian reactors at Kudankulam. Sri Lanka was concerned, he had said, about the fallout in the event of an accident at the plant.
He now claims that all he said was that Sri Lanka and India would discuss the issue at the next session of the IAEA. And he blames Indian journalists for the non-issue developing into a major story.
“I take great care when answering questions posed by Indian journalists now,” he wrote in his weekly column in the pro-government newspaper The Nation. “This is because some comments I made regarding the Koodankulam nuclear power plant were taken out of context by some of these same journalists, leading to a major diplomatic incident,” he said.
“What I told a [local] media institution was that Sri Lanka and India needed a common mechanism for disaster management in the event of an accident occurring at the plant, and that there were three conventions in this regard, which have been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). I told them that Sri Lanka would attempt to take forward discussions on this proposal with India at the next IAEA session in Vienna. It was reported by the local media institution that Sri Lanka was presenting a resolution to the Vienna sessions regarding signing an agreement with India!
“This was later picked up by the Times of India, which claimed that Sri Lanka was going to present a resolution against India’s Koodankulam power plant at the Vienna session, and this was being done as a response to India’s vote against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva! This resulted in many Tamil Nadu politicians such as Karunanidhi making thundering statements that Sri Lanka had no right to meddle in India’s internal affairs,” he said, in his column, where he tweaks his party the JHU’s stand on the Dambulla mosque episode. Monks owing allegiance to the JHU had attempted to desecrate the mosque last month, and had said that they would not rest till the mosque was pulled down from the sacred area.