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Koodankulam agitation is national issue

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. 

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8 Responses

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  1. RAJESH says

    Why cant they set up the Nuclear plant in Delhi. If there was an accident, it would not affect the rest of the country. Why they insist on fighting with villagers and setting up the plant in Koodankulam? Why dont they allow shipment of waste materials through railways or other mode to Delhi where they could bury the material there – probably next to Prime minsters’s house. May be Jayalalitha could get a share of the “gift”.

  2. Ujwala Kulkarni says

    This is a techno-economic issue, and the politician have no locus standi to comment on it. The real question is not WHETHER THE PLANT IS SAFE, BUT HOW FAR AND HOW LONG WILL IT BE SAFE? While it is highly unlikely that the plant will explode the moment it is powered on, one has to remember that the operational life of an n-plant is around 100 years. N-plants are capital intensive. A plant will not be economically viable unless it operates at near full power for 80 years or more. The probability of a catastrophic accident increases as crucial components and safety systems deteriorate with time.

    N-plants are far safer than the conventional ones and have excellent safety records round the world. But the real problem is that an accident can be catastrophic and the health hazards can last for generations. In an extreme case, a large area around the plant can become uninhabitable for several years.

  3. Namakkal Raghavendran says

    Yes, nuclear power has a lot of limitations, but like the institutions of marriage or democracy, the alternatives are worse. People airily talk of wind power, solar power, power from this source or from that source, but every alternative entails unmanageable costs for the quantum of power required if we have to make industrial progress. It is one thing to power your watch from the sun but it is altogether a different ball game if we require additionally 30-40 giga watts.
    Again it has been argued we can’t make up all that shortfall by nuclear power. Agreed, but it will at least go someway for the present and maybe in a decade or so there will be some major breakthrough in solar power technology and we could then phase out nuclear power. The people keep talking about Fukushima. There is a thousand times greater probability of your getting killed in a train (leave alone highway accidents), than getting fried in a nuclear accident which will be caused by a100 m high tsunami.

  4. visithyddotcom says

    V. S. Achuthanandan. is a stalwart. hahahaha. Your last line defines your agenda.

  5. zen_ocean says

    Nuclear Power: now being dumped by developed nations:
    1. costly
    2. high cost maintenance
    3. highly dangerous than any other.
    4. No disposing of residue
    5. The reason they are in India is: no other country will by their tech and material which are indeed developing eg: mid-east, china or pakistan. Only left India with highly corrupt government.
    We may better have solar energy and wind power generation setups in large scale.

  6. vyas cm says

    Its a pity we keep spreading canards about the project at this stage. This is clearly a US sponsored mudslinging and arm twisting. Thanks to the people of India, even the Govt finds itself in a vulnerable position, unable to meaningfully close matters. Again, the traitors in opposition would rather score political brownie points than focus on India’s interests on this issue.


  7. ravi bulusu says

    India is a big country if 121 ceorw population, and we power from all sources. Thermal power from
    coal is not a long term solution, as coal reserves will last only a few more years, to be economically viable to excavate and produce power. Hydro power is not reliable as it is rain dependent.
    Solar power is not economical as yet to produce compared to thermal, but it is a viable and eco friendly idea. Nuclear power is efficient, clean and takes less space, causes less polution than even thermal power plants. We should not compare ourselves with Germany, Switzerland, and
    Japan as they are of small size and have less population. They can say no to Nuclear power
    as their alternate souces of power are sufficient for them.

    This blind dislike against nuclear power must be shed asap, and the nuclear power projects must go on stream as quickly as possible.


  8. Jaganniwas Iyer says

    If the cacaphony of the anti-national jholawala crowd is “national opinion”, the author must be living on another planet. The Koodankulam agitationists are the public face of anti-Indian foreign elements. Period.
    Jaganniwas Iyer

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