The common man could be able to get his views heard prior to the launch of a nuclear energy-related project if a system planned by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) takes off.

AERB chairman S.S. Bajaj said here on Thursday: “The people should know that they are being heard and their concerns are taken on board. We are debating on how to go about it.”

He was talking to journalists on the sidelines of an international conference organised by the World Nuclear Association.

Asked whether it would be on the lines of the public hearings organised by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for various projects, he said that different modalities were being discussed.

The move assumes importance in the wake of growing public protests against nuclear power projects in different parts of the country. They threaten to derail the ambitious plans of the government to increase the capacity of nuclear energy to 63,000 MW by 2032 from the existing 4,780 MW.

Mr. Bajaj, however, made it clear that the discussion on involving the public was started well before the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan.

Other experts participating in the symposium also underlined the need for timely and accurate public dissemination of information to allay the apprehensions of the public on safety-related issues of nuclear power projects.

While the president of the Japan Atomic Industry Federation, Takuya Hattori, listed release of information at regular intervals as one of the lessons learnt from the Fukushima accident, project director of the Fast Breeder Reactor Project at Kalpakkam Prabhat Kumar noted that the agitation against the nuclear plant at Kudankulam had not spread to Kalpakkam mainly because the officials and the staff at the facility were constantly keeping in touch with the people living in the neighbourhood.

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