Between Pondicherry and Chennai, if you have driven, you would have found Kalpakkam, a small viltlage which is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the southern city of Chennai. The Madras Atomic Power Plant, which is located inside the township of Kalpakkam, was inaugurated by the former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1985. The first heavy water leakage happened in the second unit of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) on March 26 1999. The news was widespread, all over the world, and questions were raised all over on how much radioactive tritium was released, what was the level of radioactive exposure to people who tried to stop the leakage. The top officials of MAPS said that there is no harm for people and no one has been affected by the radiation, adding that the leak occurred because a sealing plug of a coolant channel of the second unit was not positioned properly after the completion of maintenance work .
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Six months ago, six workers at the Kalpakkam Reprocessing Plant (KARP) were exposed to a severe dose of radiation. Over three months later, in May, BFEA, the employees association of this BARC facility, gave a strike notice. Scarcely a month after that, the president of the association was transferred. Now, the "strategic" nuclear establishment of the country is finally admitting to a major accident at KARP. B. Bhattacharjee, director of BARC (the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre), told Outlook: "This is the worst accident in radiation exposure in the history of nuclear India."

The incident on January 21, which led to the indefinite shutting down of the plant, raises serious questions over the safety of the production of potential weapons-grade plutonium at KARP, and also the safety of workers and human habitations around Kalpakkam. Concerned members of the scientific community feel that if safety issues aren't quickly addressed and made transparent, Kalpakkam may be a mini-Chernobyl in the making.