Over the years fishermen of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts have been opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) that is located at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district. As the lighthouse department is coming out with a 45 metre tall lighthouse at Kuthenkuly village, for once, the fishermen say they look to the red lights installed near the reactor buildings to know where they are in the sea.
A fisheries department official said that most of the fishermen fish within 10 nautical miles from the shore and that the lighthouse will be of help to them. The fishermen said that they even go 20 to 25 nautical miles off the shore in search of fish. "But even then we can see the red lights in the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam. We don’t know why they installed it but we can see it from a distance and know how far and in which direction we are from the coast," fisherman M Prashanth of Kuthenkuly said.
KKNPP officials told TOI that there are two stacks that are 100 metres tall with red flash lights with medium intensity installed on them. "It is to indicate flights of the tall structure (nuclear reactors) here. While the reactor buildings (Unit I and Unit II) with a capacity of 1,000 MW each stand at a height of 80 metres, the stacks with the red light are 20 metres taller," an official said.
The official added that the lights have nothing to do with power generation and that they remain on even when there is no power generation. "Now Unit II is shut for annual maintenance and refuelling but the lights are still on. Red lights are used as the colour is more penetrative and is visible even during mist and rough weather. Flashing grabs the attention more than a constant light," he added.
"It is happy to hear that the lights are useful for the fishermen and guiding them," KKNPP site director D S Choudhary said.