While the attention of the political class is trained on the ‘Coalgate’ scam, it has been left to a Western news agency to highlight that the Comptroller and Auditor General issued yet another report Wednesday criticising the functioning of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board [AERB] for being an appendage of the government without a mind of its own or a mandate or independent authority and, dismally enough, lacking in a radiation safety policy as such.
It’s a ‘scathing’ criticism. Maybe ‘shocking’ is the more appropriate word. The CAG report comes at a time when India’s nuclear debate is maturing, finally. The civil society has brought up to national attention the question whether India really needs to depend on nuclear energy. The agitation that mushroomed in faraway Koodankulam has reached the Indian capital and the involvement of high-profile activists such as Aruna Roy all but ensures that this issue is not going to go away.
The government won’t have the option now to resuscitate the old allegation that the Koodankulam agitators are ‘foreign agents’. The national mood is becoming increasingly receptive to the cause of the agitators. Lest it is forgotten, Roy is a member of the National Advisory Council and an experienced social activist who is able to gauge the national mood.
She spoke strongly against “dangerous illusions like pursuing nuclear power. People are resisting these ‘nuclear power’ projects which stand to threaten their lives and livelihoods.” The ‘radiation’ from Fukushima has indeed reached India.
In immediate terms, all eyes are on the Madras High Court which will state its decision next week. The PIL is on Koodankulam plant specifically, but larger issues are involved and it promises to be a landmark judgment. The HC has already pulled up the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board for its shoddy work in clearing the Koodankulam power plant.
The curious part is the deafening silence of our political class. That is, with the solitary exception of one stalwart from Kerala — V. S. Achuthanandan.
Posted in Politics.
– August 24, 2012