Chennai: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will take the final decision on the controversial Koodankulam nuclear power plant, a key Union Minister involved in the issue said on Saturday. He informed the Central expert panel had said safety fears of locals were more psychological than based on facts.

"The protestors' demands are not justified... I will brief the Prime Minister on Monday after his return from abroad and he will take the final decision," Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy told a news agency, a day after talks between the panel and protesters failed to end the prolonged impasse.

He said the agitators were demanding information which was extraneous to the issue on hand and not connected with safety aspects which appeared to be "motivated".

Narayanasamy, deputed by the Prime Minister during the first phase of the agitation in September to resolve the issue, said Central officials were in touch with their counterparts in Tamil Nadu on the situation.

The villagers in and around Koodankulam have been demanding scrapping of the Indo-Russian project resulting in delay in commissioning the first of the two 1x1000 MWe reactors at the plant from December to March.

The 15-member experts committee had on Friday met the six-member panel set up by the Tamil Nadu Government which included two representatives of the protesters, but failed to make any headway with the agitators calling it a failure.

Leaders of the people's movement against nuclear energy had claimed that they were not provided with the documents they had sought at the first meeting held early this month.

The Central panel said it was not part of its mandate to provide information on inter-governmental agreement, impact of bilateral relations between governments, Russian and Indian liability issues, Nuclear Suppliers Group-related issues and the setting up of a possible weapon facility at KNPP as demanded by the protesters.

"Fears about the genetic effects of radiation around the nuclear site is more psychological and is contrary to scientific facts...As such, we feel that the radiation safety of the people around KNPP is guaranteed and there would be no impact of the operation of the power station on the public," the committee said in its report.

The 39-page report by the committee headed by A E Muthunayagam, which visited the plant and held discussions with the plant officials, was submitted at the meeting on Friday and made public on Saturday.

Observing that quite a few points in the protestors' 50-point memorandum "lacked clarity," the Central committee said it would provide further clarifications on "specific relevant points."

Giving a clean chit to KNPP, it said there were 20 reactors functioning in six different places in the country with the first one commissioned 40 years ago.

"India has an excellent record of performance with no incident of radiation exposure to the public exceeding the allowable limit," it said, giving a point-by-point clarification to the protestors' memorandum.

"The reactor being built at KNPP is advanced model of Russian VVER 1000 MW pressurised water reactor, which is a leading type of reactor worldwide," the committee said, adding the VVER reactors' performance worldwide has been "very good."

During the visits to the plant, it observed that further construction activities were not progressing and the status quo was maintained. Only some essential surveillance of the installed equipment was on, it said.

On Tsunami threat, the committee said the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS), Hyderabad, was connected with KNPP and would alert the plant in case of any such eventuality.

KNPP was located in Indian seismic zone-II, which is the least seismic potential region in the country, as far as earthquake issue is concerned, it said.

Seeking to dispel fears about the impact on marine life, the report said the operation of nuclear plants in the coastal locations at Tarapur in Maharashtra and Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu had not shown any such adverse impact.

Referring to environmental clearances, the panel said there was "no violation" in the approval granted for units 1 and 2 of KNPP and noted there was no sensitive habitats like mangrove or coral reefs off the KNPP coast.

Raising questions about Coastal Regulatory Zone clearance, protesters had asked why units 1 and 2 were given clearance, while the proposed units 3, 4, 5 and 6 were yet to get it.

On the claim of the protesters that reprocessing of spent fuel would pose a danger, the committee said, "At Koodankulam, spent fuel from the reactors will be carefully stored in storage pools" adding "there is no plan to do the reprocessing of the spent fuel at Koodankulam site."

"As such, the storage of spent fuel at Koodankulam is to be considered only as an interim measure till they are transported to a reprocessing facility," it added.

(Agencies)