Opinion » Lead

Updated: September 14, 2012 00:46 IST

The real questions from Kudankulam

Rahul Siddharthan
Comment (106)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

In an atmosphere of mistrust of the government, only an independent safety regulatory mechanism can counter the scaremongering against civilian nuclear power

I work at an institution funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (which, however, does no nuclear research: the DAE funds a wide variety of institutions and areas in science). About a year ago, I had an e-mail from a journalist who wondered why scientists (including colleagues at my institution), who were so outspoken in their opposition to nuclear weapons, were silent about nuclear power. I suggested that perhaps most scientists are not opposed to civilian nuclear power. India’s scientific academies may prefer to be silent on most issues of importance, but individual Indian scientists are an outspoken lot — they have contributed to the public debate on a variety of issues, ranging from nuclear weapons in the late 1990s to genetically modified crops more recently. If there were a genuine debate to be had on the safety or desirability of nuclear power, I would expect Indian scientists to actively participate in it.

Concrete, not abstract

And in fact there is a genuine debate to be had, but it is not an abstract debate about the safety or desirability of nuclear power. It is a concrete debate about the mechanisms for ensuring safety and transparency. Unfortunately, in all the noise about Kudankulam, this issue has received comparatively little attention in the media.

Since the Fukushima earthquake, worries about nuclear power have been widespread around the world. One person whose mind was changed was the environmental activist George Monbiot: writing in the British newspaper The Guardian on March 21, 2011, he declared: “As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.” His reason was that despite the magnitude of the disaster, the age of the plant, and the inadequate safety features, which led to a meltdown, nobody, as far as we know, had yet received a lethal dose of radiation. This convinced him that well-maintained plants built to modern safety standards pose little threat to the public. Meanwhile, we are facing unprecedented demands for energy, and global warming, driven by accelerating use of fossil fuels and resulting in rising sea levels and extreme weather, presents the biggest environmental threat to the world — especially, one should note, to poor coastal fishing communities such as the one at Kudankulam.

A little before Monbiot’s article, Randall Munroe, creator of the XKCD web comic, published a comparison of various forms of ionising radiation, measured in microsieverts, drawn from public sources (see This widely circulated chart (also cited by Monbiot) suggested that the annual radiation exposure from living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant is about the same as that from eating a single banana (each being 0.1 microsieverts); the extra dose that Tokyo residents received following Fukushima (about 40 microsieverts) was about a tenth of the yearly dose from natural radioactive potassium in the body (about 390 microsieverts); and the maximum external dose from the Three Mile Island accident (about 1,000 microsieverts) is about a quarter of the normal yearly background dose (4,000 microsieverts, of which about 85 per cent is from natural sources and most of the rest from medical scans).

This is not to minimise the effects of disasters when they do occur. The radiation dose from spending one hour in Chernobyl, in 2010, is much more than the normal yearly “background” dose, and more than the maximum monthly dose permitted for radiation workers in the United States. We need to prevent a Chernobyl-type disaster from ever happening again, anywhere in the world. To quote Monbiot again: “I’m not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.”

When an activist asked me last year whether I would feel safe living near a nuclear plant, I responded that I would consider living in Kalpakkam or Kudankulam much safer and healthier than living in Chennai (or any other Indian metro). She was taken aback, but responded that, nevertheless, the villagers do not feel that way, and we city people should not speak for the villagers.

Unfortunately, this has been the quality of the public debate on Kudankulam so far (and on other contentious nuclear projects like Jaitapur). Perceptions on safety matter more than facts. This is not totally a bad thing: public worry over nuclear power, especially since Chernobyl, has probably contributed to its extraordinary safety – just as the perceived dangers of air travel have made it by far the safest form of travel.

India, and Tamil Nadu in particular, faces a severe shortfall of energy. The environmental and societal damage from hydroelectric power is now well-known. Power plants running on fossil fuels, especially coal (the dominant fuel in India), cause incalculably more damage — including in ionising radiation — than nuclear power. Wind power is promising but, when implemented on a large scale, has its own environmental concerns, particularly to migratory birds. Solar panels are expensive, inefficient, and depend on rare earth elements, the mining of which, again, causes environmental damage. Monbiot’s decision to support nuclear energy is not surprising. What is surprising is the reluctance of other environmentalists to do the same.

To support civilian nuclear power with safeguards, in the abstract, is not the same as to support a particular power project. There may be valid safety or environmental concerns about a particular power project. There may be concerns about resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced people. The DAE needs to work out how to address these concerns in order to prevent similar problems with upcoming power projects. But it cannot do that on its own. We need independent oversight.

Civilian and military use

Unfortunately, for most of its history in India, civilian nuclear power has been deeply intertwined with the nuclear weapons project. As a result, the atomic energy establishment and the government have opposed any kind of external scrutiny of their projects. That has been changing in recent years. In 2005, India undertook, in an agreement with the U.S., to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and to place the former under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The safeguards agreement was signed with the IAEA in 2009. However, these safeguards are mainly concerned with proliferation of nuclear materials, not with the safety of the plant itself.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is the main organisation concerned with nuclear safety in India. The AERB was severely criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General in August this year on numerous grounds, including not preparing a nuclear safety policy despite having had a mandate to do so since 1983; failing to prepare 27 of 168 safety documents; not having a detailed inventory of all radiation sources; and failure to adopt international practices. Currently a bill is pending to replace the AERB with a Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA). In December 5, 2011, in an article in DNA (Mumbai), former AERB chairman A. Gopalakrishnan argued forcefully for an independent regulatory mechanism along the lines of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in France, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the U.S., and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). All these organisations, though appointed by the government, are independent, free of political and corporate influence, transparent, and communicate regularly with the public. Dr. Gopalakrishnan fears that the NSRA, as proposed, will be subject to government pressure and manipulation.

No trust

Intertwined with distrust of the DAE is a larger distrust of the Indian government. Given our inability to maintain the railways, highways, postal department, and other necessary infrastructure in good working order, why should our government be trusted to maintain nuclear plants? It is a good question and deserves a good answer. The DAE may be an excellent organisation, but it must be seen to be excellent, and only openness and external scrutiny will provide that. The NSRA bill deserves much greater media attention and debate than it has received so far.

Unfortunately, this much-needed debate does not appear to be occurring: the activists, with their maximalist demand for stopping all nuclear power projects, not only discredit themselves, but let the government off the hook. The Indian public is aware of the power crisis and is not inclined to oppose nuclear power. The largest political parties in Tamil Nadu, too, have proven reluctant to back the anti-nuclear protests. The media have largely failed to ask the right questions. As a result, there is no pressure on the government, or on the DAE, to ensure transparency or to institute a genuinely independent regulatory body along the lines of proven international examples.

Meanwhile, the protesting locals at Kudankulam, who have now reportedly been persuaded to enter the sea in a “jal satyagraha,” seem to be victims only of unfounded scaremongering. All sympathies to them; but my sympathies, at least, don’t extend to the educated purveyors of motivated misinformation who, in a world of real and imminent global threats, are asking the villagers to act against their own best interests.

(Rahul Siddharthan is with the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. The arguments expressed here are his personal opinions and not those of his institution.)

More In: Lead | Opinion

A very balanced article and the best so far on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. The article is based on scientific facts with approximate numerical data supporting the argument.A well written article.

from:  Ankit Sharma
Posted on: Sep 16, 2012 at 10:41 IST

Yesterday French President Francois Holland announced that the Fessenheim nuclear power plant in northeastern France will be closed down by the end of 2016. On 5th Sep 2012 there was an explosion at this site in which two persons were injured by burns. Last year on 12th Sep 2011, there was an explosion at the Marcoule Nuclear site in which two persons were killed. French Govt intends to phaseout 24 reactors by 2025. Yesterday the Govt of Japan announced that their nuclear reactors will be shut down by 2040. Already Germany Govt has announced to close their nuclear plants by 2022. Why these Govt wants to close their reactors? Because Nuclear reactors are not safe as some pretends to be. Instead of investing in nuclear reactors we should accelerate towards new sources of energy.

from:  Paris EJILAN
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 12:53 IST

Quite an informative and clear presentation of relevant aspects. well balanced and based on facts, without any hidden agenda.kudos to the author and the hindu

from:  V N Sairam
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 12:50 IST

One should have nothing against the potential of nuclear energy. But the Scientists should first work on creating a safe method of generating it. The present one cannot be trusted. If it is safe, why countries are dismantling plants? Like Germany? (Thanks Velmurugan) India has many alternatives compared to European countries. We shouldn't be afraid to take decisions because a lot of money has been spent. Safety of people are more important.

from:  Anil P
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 11:51 IST

The article speaks itself.The best from Hindu..BUT..the poor people of Kundankulam are not educated compared to the readers of this article.They are fighting for wrong reasons.Its high time to teach these people to make them realize the wrong decision they have taken. The media in all forms should actively be involved in giving the right information about the impact of such a mega project.

from:  Sreekanth
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 11:07 IST

Well researched article, the point made by the author that impact on environment by Solar/Wind/Hydel/Coal means of energy shall also be studied by our environment people is very valid. For People who are suggesting the author to reside near any nuclear plant, I will advise them to visit any township near nuclear plant then comment. Yes, I live in a colony within 6 km radially away from a nuclear plant.

from:  tara chand
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 10:22 IST

I can only say that we don't know the solution for this problem. So the best thing is privatize the power sector and unleash the market forces in private sector. The govt does not have any responsibility to provide the electricity to the people. Let the market place decide what kind of power stations we require and at what price we pay for electric power.

from:  Satish
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 08:32 IST

First of all, thanks to the Hindu for publishing a pro and anti article on Kudankulam. They did the same with bars in Mumbai.
As one of the my fellow citizens commenting earlier rightly said - the mentality of our government is ruler and subject, not administrator and citizens.

The government did not inform and educate the surrounding populace about the nuclear plant before the project was undertaken because they expected the villagers to step aside for the greater good. For those of you who have read the 'Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy', this is pretty much what Arthur Dent had to go through.
We as a people, not just the government, must first respect life - even if it is of the poor and destitute - before we speak about development and electricity or superpower status.

from:  Rahul Garg
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 05:18 IST

Thank you very much for a lucid and balanced article on KNPP issue. I wish there will be more such thought provoking articles on the burning issues of the day be it nuclear energy or FDI in retail. I hope the govt takes note of the author's point of having an independent nuclear safety authority if we are to sustain nuclear power projects in India for the long term.

from:  Joyjit Dutta
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 03:07 IST

What an perfect visionary to look at the problem? Brilliant writing, calls for an award for sure. I thank the author for throwing insight into some of the topics like the concerns of alternative forms of energy generation, never did I know about migrating birds have issues with Wind energy.

from:  Vishwas
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012 at 00:05 IST

Protesters should think that we are living in age of globalisation and from here we have to compete with the world, and without power it can not possible. We have to choose the way that we want to go from here in forward or in backward direction. If we want the prosperity, development and glowing bulb n every household we should not swayed by misinformation of people having vested interest in protest.

from:  dharm Dev
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 23:46 IST

Energy security, safer and cleaner power is the need of the hour for growth model of India. A wondrous article, well explained. One need to anticipate the consequences when an unwanted thing happens. One need to be prepared to face and solve issues arising instead of refraining others from taking the bold steps which are essential for India today.

from:  Arjun
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 23:26 IST

As author said about the quality of debate...this is what India is always facing in every issue..there is simply lot of illogical noise with every issue and every change that the country wants to make..May it be FDI..may it be GMO..may it be Nuclear energy..So the problem is in this noise we are unable to identify the real issues and problems with each of this topic and there is no focus on cicumventing the problems..its simply a blunt no or yes...

from:  Dinoop
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 23:19 IST

Another unbiased article at the cost of truth.

from:  Venkatesan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 21:37 IST

This is indeed a great article and the author expressed his opinions fluidly, and
objectively.Thank Hindu for this. I can't think of a single word to make it simpler.
Japanese are thinking in terms of avoiding nuclear power, and they can afford to think in that direction. Japanese arguments are not just about safety, but out of phobia and their hate relationship with nuclear attack on their soil.
Japan is an advanced affluent first world country with a very strong technology base. They would be able to switch to alternative fuels, and other forms of energy far more easily than us.

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 21:23 IST

Ofcourse Tamilnadu needs more power gen capacity. How about investing into crippling Transmission and distribution network. Inefficiencies in T&D is not acceptable to any standards. Again this cost very less compared to creating more power plants and waiting for fuel availability.

from:  vignesh
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 20:58 IST

I & my friends went to Kudankulam in March, to know about the actual facts. before going there I heard from many friends that "some middle class elites are creating agitation like Udaykumar but when we asked villagers in form of personal interviews, people said first they started protesting when they realized plant's danger and Udaykumar just helped to make their protest more strong and global. a group of people said "we know that this power is not for us it will go to cities". one guy said I'll die for this protest but I do not want plant in village at any cost. the lack of transparency and trust issue which author has raised is important, they also said it. when they first asked something from officials and authorities they just ignored them. people said we don't want our future generation in danger. they said state never told them about safety matters like; what it(government) will do to evacuate people when some thing like Fukushima will happen there.

from:  Mohammad Zafar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 20:30 IST

Once more, after many moons, do we have a the perspective of somebody who actually knows what he's talking about when it comes to nuclear power. Extremely well-written, and balanced. We have had enough hogwash from both the politicians and the activists who have their own vested interests, leaving the majority of Indians in a quagmire of backwardness. I completely concur with the author that the institutions involved must be forced into transparency and accountability, as there is indeed a large trust deficit. Notwithstanding, the vast majority of people are unlikely to wait several decades to see some progress in infrastructure development.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 20:23 IST

One of the best article which illuminates the real issues in a straight forward manner without
bias or hidden agenda from an inside expert. It behoves on the PM to champion and
spearhead the program for the independent authority, if necessary drawing from international
expertise apart from our own experts to make the body truly independent. The PM should
take the same initiative that he did in signing the pact with the US for nuclear power realizing
the importance of power needs of the nation inspite of the stiff opposition.

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 20:22 IST

I just got a comment today on my facebook timeline from a friend from Japan. He
said simply that 57 nuclear power plants out of the 58 that were providing Japan with
30% of it's power needs (as opposed to India where 20 plants provide only 3%) had
been shut down for over a year and a half since Fukushima disaster. But they never
had such blackouts as us to complain about. He also said they have plenty of
electricity. Japanese have even invented a device that generates electricity from Heat.
They are so ingenious and with their eagerness to adapt and create new technologies
they are managing superbly without nuclear. He finally confessed that it was obvious
nuclear power in Japan and elsewhere is JUST A RACKET for money laundering and
siphoning off of public funds by corrupt politicians and their corporate friends who
finance them to power!

from:  angela alvares
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 20:11 IST

A very well written article. its good to see some facts-backed
arguments in the sea of emotionally / selfishly motivated protests.
One argument against the criticism of a closed door AERB or DAE is
that - given the way our media and public or even civil society reacts
to any govt policy towards development, dont you think opening up DAE
and AERB to increased media scrutiny will only hamper the work being
done today? I am not against increased accountability, however, i am
not too sure if it will effective in today's times (where public
appeasement is the way to be) .

from:  surabhigawande
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 19:58 IST

The article made some points to convince many. I have been living in
Germany for the last 37 years. Three years ago the political opinion
there was for Atomic plants. But soon after the Fukushima disaster,
there was a sudden change. There is no solution in sight, for the very
dangerous waste from atomic plants. The German gov't decided to shut
down all atomic plants in Germany by 2022. About two months ago, there
was news that Germany generated electric power thru solar panels
(photo voltaic) all over Germany that equals 20 atomic power plants.
It is strange that in our age of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), important and relevant information is missed.

from:  Abraham Karammel
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 19:34 IST

NPCIL is not releasing Safety Analysis Report and Site Evaluation of Kudankulam Nuclear Plant under RTI despite an order from the Central Information Commissioner (Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2012/000544/18674 dt. 30.04.12) asking that the above reports should be released after removing any proprietary details of designs provided by the suppliers. The CIC also observed that such reports are routinely available to the public in most western countries and as such the same should be available to the Indian public.

This act of not releasing information, even after an order to that effect by the CIC and contrary to the practice followed in most western countries, the NPCIL is fueling suspicion in the mind of the general public that it has something to hide.

from:  Atul Batra
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 19:24 IST

As an Electrical Engineer, I understand the need for the country to increase electricity generation by all feasible means including Nuclear. However the general public must be taken into confidence.

For this the following steps must be taken:
1. The govt. must establish an independent safety / regulatory authority.
2. World class safety standards must be put in place.
3. Liability of equipment suppliers and plant operators must be generally as per international standards and should be in public domain.
4. All concerns of the public must be clearly answered.
5. All information regarding the safety of the plant (with minimum exceptions) should be in public domain generally as per international norms.
6. General development of the areas surrounding nuclear plants should be part of the overall plant plan.

If the above steps are taken am sure majority of the public will not oppose setting up of new plants.

from:  Atul Batra
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 19:19 IST

Very Well articulated article with a balanced view on the Nuclear Power Generation.

from:  Sriram I.A
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 19:07 IST

Absolutely a theoretical sermon which would never be useful for practical application. A person totally unconnected to Nuclear science has stitched an essay for test collecting data from different sources to suit his mind set! Having witnessed the disasters in Chernobil, Fukushima and Bhopal leading to unfathomable tragedies and calamities, what is wrong in the people living in and around Kudankulam fearing catastrophe to befall them and their generations due to inevitable contingency? What a hypocritical statement that the author would like to live in Kalpakkam or Kudankulam and still be out of the effects of radiation! One most important factor he has very conveniently and purposely failed to touch is about the poor disaster management and contingency plan available in our country. We have seen what happened and what a poor contingency plan the government both state and central had when the Tsunami struck the poor people, devastated and orphaned them. It is an open secret how our government has acted in respect of the Bhopal tragedy and the compensation due to the affected. It is easy to preach this way sitting thousands of miles away from the site of disaster. If only the killer plant was planted in the backyard of the author, I am sure, his views would have been totally different. Who knows, he might have by now become another Udayakumar leading the crusaders in the seas. Let us talk sense and preach only truth as per our conscience, Siddharth.

from:  Tharcius S.Fernando
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 18:59 IST

A well written and balanced article. An independent regulator for
nuclear energy is indeed the need of the hour.

from:  Vikram
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 18:56 IST

Auther expains that in Fukushima accident, there is no major after effcts as such observed.
""His reason was that despite the magnitude of the disaster, the age of the plant, and the inadequate safety features, which led to a meltdown, nobody, as far as we know, had yet received a lethal dose of radiation.""
But its not the real case.Various studies say that there is genetic change in the plants.There is extent of radiation which is observed in the regular food.
Various universities in world predicting that 130-1800 deaths are expected due to cancer caused by radiation.
From the given analysis, I feel that we are calculating number of deaths/cancer that may occur due to small to major accidents which is going to be genetic in nature that means going to spread to next generation.
There are ways like wind/solar available now other than nuclear, which are much safer.

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 18:52 IST

Political expediency is deep rooted in our country that people are mislead in ways which they themselves, and the country, would curse later on. The article is spot on in emphasizing the need for a informed and a result oriented debate rather than a political gambit just to trouble government or opposition.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 18:16 IST

A well-balanced article for once !!! Thanks to Rahul for an excellent article. The comment "motivated misinformation who, in a world of real and imminent global threats, are asking the villagers to act against their own best interests" is the icing on the cake... We seem to be having a few among ourselves here...

from:  Ramanujam
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 18:12 IST

finally we have the much awaited fresh breeze

from:  pramit
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 18:05 IST

AERB to NSRA. What an evolution of alphabetical soup? What good is it going to do? Why do prominent authorities express their views only after retirement? Without the basic understanding and mechanism to do things, we only end up spending time and money to form 'independent' commissions and boards. Please come to reality and 'talk' to the villagers. Get rid of the foreign hand (if any) and sow the seeds of trust among our people. If some crooked minds can brainwash a whole community of people, why can't the educated elite minds of the AERB and others explain the truth in a convincing manner? Try this, or send them all to some soft skill course - for the sake of the country.

from:  Vijay Shankar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:56 IST

Well written article. As statistics shows, travelling in an airplane is much, much safer than sitting at your home. We do see airplane disasters, but statistically they are much, much safer.Similarly, the heavily protected, guarded and maintained nuclear facilities are much safer than my own home. Probably being in a beach is more harmful (due to higher radiation backround). I am willing to relocate near a nuclear facility if I get the opportunity.

from:  Padmakumar Rao
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:31 IST

It is a shame that IITs in this country have failed to develop any meaningful nuclear technology. India has the largest thorium reserves in the world and Indian scientists have failed to develop thorium based power plants and it remains an unreachable dream. Indians lack shame completely when begging other countries for nuclear technology.

from:  Mohan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:23 IST

I appreciate the article for its simplicity; but I reserve my
criticism for over simplifying the impending threat of a nuclear
accident. Fukushima disaster indeed brought out the exemplary work
culture and the disaster management of Japanese to limit or minimize
the effects of the radiation fall-out; but to say that 'nobody
received a lethal dose of radiation' is a tall statement-time only
will prove the veracity of this notion. Citing examples of radiation
caused by consumption of bananas and those caused by natural
radioactive Potassium in the body trivialize the enormity of the
effects of radiation in the event of a disaster. Also the living
things are adapted to sustain certain levels of radiation and survive;
the radiation likely to be released by the nuclear Plant and its waste
however small is in addition to what is deemed sustainable. It could
be a slow poison to cause deficiency to the flora and fauna of the
region. For today's progress you cannot risk a future generation.

from:  M.R.Sampath
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:21 IST

Kudos to Himdu for publishing this.

from:  R.subramonian
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:20 IST

Really very balanced and to the purpose article.
The topic has been anlyzed in a very unbiased and genuine way. It shows concern for the locals but at the same time struck very balanced chord for our energy requirement. It askes for a debate concerning the core issues like energy requirement, envin issues, rehabilation issues etc.
The common people are facing much severe problems from other kind of industrial activities which are giving complete miss to media and other news seekers.

from:  Sonu Kumar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:15 IST

Data on radiation is not challenged. But what about medical facilities and rehabilitation measures in the worst possibility of the so called low level radiation associated with accidents or any degree of melt down, increases to alarming levels by any chance. Are there Hospitals and Health centres available to the poor villagers for extending some relief?

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 17:12 IST

Mr.Rahul Sidharthan, congratulation for the splendid and pragmatic article on Nuclear plants.In the world there is nothing with all benefits and no bad effects, We must balance and decide our views .The people should not be taken for a ride by some "Interested" groups and spread fear.
WE need power for Agriculture,Industry, Health, travel and day to day living.With changing weather hydro power cannot be fully depended.

from:  premnattm
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 16:55 IST

A great article . "Given our inability to maintain the railways, highways, postal department, and other necessary infrastructure in good working order, why should our government be trusted to maintain nuclear plants ?" . This aptly sums up the situation the GOI is in . GOI should have taken the upper hand to ensure that they allayed the fears of the local population . A half hearted attempt at this has allowed some vested interests to spread misinformation to the local population.
Nuclear power is the way forward and think about the good it can do to a state like TN which suffers acute power crises .

from:  Nikhil
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 16:49 IST

Great article with balanced views.
Nuclear power plant with adeauate safeguards is the rightest option in current scenario to overcome energy crisis.As pointed out by the author, fossil fuels are not better alternative to nuclear enery, infact they are at negative side considering global warming and rise of sea level.

Demand of the situation is trust among common people towards DAE or in this case Government of India, which can only be restored by an independent authority on nuclear power plant.Thus authors assertion to give more attention of nuclear safety regulatory bill is essential.

from:  Shivraj Gurjar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 16:07 IST

A well-written article strong on content and addressing the issue on hand. The fact of the matter is everything in life comes with its own risks. Does that mean that we stop living our lives?
The electricity that powers each home is a dispeller of darkness, but also holds the potential to burn down that home. The onus of preventing the house from burning down due to a short circuit or faulty wiring is on the owner of the house. And, in a country of 1.2 billion, how many houses have been burned down by the power that runs through it?
In short, nuclear reactors are likely to prove safer than believed, given the risks attached and the resultant stringent checks and balances that will be put in place to minimize these risks.The fears of the villagers are understandable. But, what is not is the attitude of these so called do-gooders, who are heightening the worries of these villagers and forcing them to adopt a postion of confrontation, which will only lead to destruction.

from:  Eswaran
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 15:51 IST

excellent article! it's rightly pointed out by the author with proper
reference and numbers that how someone can be no more NEUTRAL about
nuclear power plant and support it!
It's a great article and it must reach the environmentalist who are
quite about this issue!

from:  vivek patil
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 15:17 IST

A well documented article. But one should not forget that here opposition is not to plant but to the government due to its very horrible history and safety measures taken earlier.
As explained initially the atmosphere is of mistrust of the government.
There is no question about the safety measures and guidelines being documented on papers but what about the actual implementation?
This is the point that the people don't believe on our government.
No one can forget Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

from:  abhishek
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 15:07 IST

If nuclear energy is safer than eating banana why Japan, France, Italy and Germany are closing the nuclear reactors.
75% of France power is nuclear. Now it is started closing down then step by step.
Japan categorically said that it will never open a new reactor. It is seeking other modes to generate power.
Solar power is the best source of power today. Do you know that 20% of electricity in Saudi Arabis is from Solar Energy.
Why you have not given statistics of Nuclear power produced in India. What is their capacity and how much they have generated? what is the price of each unit of electricity? How may radiation accident have occurred till date?

from:  Velmurugan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 15:06 IST

Excellent and really informative article! Thanks to "The Hindu" for publishing this write up. We need nuclear energy with out any doubt but of course with sufficient safety measures. With the backing of eminent scientist like Dr APJ Kalam, the Govt. should go ahead with Kudankoolam plant at the earliest. The agitators are having some vested interests by assembling the locals with the active support from the catholic churches which should be condemned by one & all.

from:  G Balamurugan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 15:00 IST

Finally, an article with some sanity. I've been trying to push the
point - the distrust of people on GoI in many of my earlier comments.
However, now another sane person is trying
to address the issue and have provided a possible solution. People
could be persuaded from scaremongers and petty politicos only by the
show of honesty, transparency and care of the Govt. for them.

So far, apart from crack downs I don't think the GoI has attempted at
quelling the real problem - distrust!

from:  Bharat
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 14:56 IST

Well done, THE HINDU and Mr. Rahul.I request Mr. Rahul to elaborate
on his reporting of "failing to prepare 27 of 68 documents".
Regarding Mr.Narsingh' comments, I request THE HINDU to analyse and
publish about Germany's power generation,utilisation and solar energy contribution. He is proud of 2000MW solar energy generation of China.OK,it is good.He must know that India need 50000MW power
from all sources for EVERY year for another 10 years atleast, to
become self sufficient. Mr.Udaykumar has wasted 11 months. Along with Prasanth Bhushan ,Kejriwal, he should agitate for a safety
monitoring institution like ASN of FRANCE,etc.

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 14:40 IST

Very rarely does one come across articles and news items that provide
unbiased and clear perspectives these days. I thank the author for
providing one.

Unfortunately perspective and reason are not known to be successful
tools to turn uninformed and misdirected mass movements on their
heads. Who does the common fisherman trust for a reliable perspective?
He does have one guy amidst him - an anti-nuclear activist - somebody
from his own town or village giving him his version. Is there anybody
who gives him an opposite opinion on a personal level? The more one
reads newspapers and watches tv news the farther one gets away from
truth these days.

The constituent MLAs, councillors, panchayats, collectors, mayors -
have we heard them take a stand? meet the villagers at their homes?
canvass the same way as they do during elections and lead the poor
people out of their ignorance?

Or as usual... contain the situation, let the protests fade... and
wait for the next misinformed agitation.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 14:35 IST

Thanks to Siddharthan and thanks to The Hindu for publishing it.
Like me, there will be many whose eyes and minds would have been freed from the cobwebs of doubts , misinformation, and what not!
A balanced approach is the need of the hour.
What can the Govt do- they are damned if they do it and damned if they don't.

from:  M.Salahuddin
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 14:10 IST

the cartoon on this article is Excellent..

from:  ratheesh
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:35 IST

Excellent article. Nuclear power can only save the country from power
crisis. The only worrying factor about these nuclear power plants is
their security. They may be the potential targets for anti-social
elements. So the nuclear power plants should be provided with tight

from:  shahensha
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:33 IST

Another 'educated' attempt to rationalise Atomic energy. India today has 20 nuclear reactor producing 4800mw after 50yrs of research and development. Kodankulam's final capacity is 9200mw. I have 0% confidence that Indian administration can handle such a project. Heck, we cant avoid yearly accidents in Sivakasi (much safer compared to Nuclear). We dont even have good roads to carry the injured. Why place excessive risk on people of Kodankulam and surrounding with this administration, have we lost empathy with fellow humans? Think!

from:  Selva
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:30 IST

There are many issues with this article. First, George Monbiot wrote his essay on March 21, 2011 - before the full aftermath of Fukushima-Daichi became known. His article has been criticized by many including nuclear safety experts as irresponsible.
It is important to give proper data on how much radiation has been measured where (how far from the site) and when (how long after release). A start would be Suminori Akiba 2012 J. Radiol. Prot. 32 1 doi:10.1088/0952-4746/32/1/1 & references within. It does not give as rosy a picture as this essay makes it out to be. Add to this internal radio-nucleide exposures by inhaling/ingesting particles. There are many scientific studies on the health effects of Chernobyl event - none give comfort.
It is fine to argue for nuclear power on development/low carbon grounds. It is also important to acknowledge the low (but finite) probability of an accident. No system can be 100% safe (despite what Sreekumar Banerjee has said). Trust begins with honesty.

from:  Krishna A Rao
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:27 IST

In theory people’s right to oppose a project should be unconditionally accepted; there cannot two opinions about this democratic right. More importantly, problems related to displacement of the project affected people should be solved well before the project is implemented. There will always be some disgruntled people (who are less than one per cent of the affected people) who would never feel satisfied with any rehabilitation package. They are best left to fend for themselves. Incidentally, my question is: Is it ever possible to set up even a thermal power project without objections from affected people?

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:19 IST

Thank You Sir!
The debate about nuclear energy use or ban must center around objective
analysis of dangers posed . questions like 'why do the atomic energy
authority think this plant is safer compared to Fukishima or chernobyl
?' or 'what to do with nuclear waste?'. This noise making is getting us

from:  Sandeep Guria
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:17 IST

Mr Rahul Siddharthan has written a well-intentioned article and touches upon a few more aspects related to nuclear power. However, one major question to be answered is can govt's fundamentally impose such developmental projects (howsoever important it may be to the proponents) on communities who stand to lose their land, resources or way of life and are opposed to giving it up? It is said that democracy is the rule of the brute majority. Quoting Gandhi: Democracy must in essence mean the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of all the various sections of the people in the service of the common good of all. What we are seeing across the country with various projects is that the political class is failing completely in such mobilization. On the contrary, as the author points out, there is complete mistrust of the govt., it's machinery, it's intentions and beneficiaries.

from:  Manish
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:14 IST

The Russian company is not ready to put at stake their money on the equipment they built and supplied, then how can we expect someone else to stake their life on it. What bothers most of us is not the day today operation and small level radiation from the plant. The people in kudankulam is worried an accident. May be the possibility of such a thing happening is very small but still it is their life that is in risk. Taking example from Bhopal gas tragedy we cant expect the government to be generous to the victims. There is no gaurantee that the victims of an accident(if occurs) will be awarded compensation and rehabilitated.

from:  BIPIN T V
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:09 IST

Really good to read and get the knowhow on civilian nuclear power....

from:  sandeep
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 13:01 IST

Nice article against the widespread viewpoint on Kudankulam plant. The
need of the hour is to apprise the poor protesters about the benefits of
the plant besides the regulatory body keeping a check on the safety

from:  Kalpana Khatri
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 12:59 IST

Thanks for a sane voice in the cacophony that has been going on.
Scaremongering only achieves limited goals for the select individuals
spearheading the movement.
Any refusal to see logic and stick to apparent perceptions is simply a
tragedy in the name of democratic rights to differ on opinions and

from:  Swagat
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 12:46 IST

The writer of this article does not specify that, if the plant is so
safe, then why not have it near chepauk in Chennai, or in Chanakyapuri
in New Delhi, or near Ambani's Antilla in Mumbai. I write this without
taking any emotional Pill. Why not have those small reactors that we
have in submarines inside parliament, Ford factory and the malls in
Gurgaon ?.

He also does not clearly state what happens to environment in and around
Koodankulam. The number of fishing boats near Tarapore has come down.
Absolutely there are no fishes to be had.

In India, and everywhere else, it is the poor and the mute who get taken
for a ride. Has the government or any agency that takes care of these
development projects have properly addressed the needs of the affected
people. The adivasis especially !!.

There should be equanimity. Development is for all. The author does not
say that there will be no radiation. What is their cumulative effect ?
Finally Every Indian is precious.

from:  aravind
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 12:42 IST

A well written article by Rahul. This is the kind of outlook one must have towards such big national issues rather than just support something or go against something just for the sake of it based on self-built opinions. As mentioned in the article, we need to learn from such foreign bodies which are untouched by their respective governments. That is the best way to address people's concerns by maintaining a proper body to fully ensure safety of the plants.
Am really surprised to see that Aravind Kejriwal also is now supporting the protestors.

from:  Pratap
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 12:26 IST

As per this author arguments, well, he can sit inside the reactor and still he will get the average radiation he normally get in the outside world. Pls remember statistics always give the data and not the fact..
The author well documented his points for Pro-nuclear energy and does not even look or write about the effect of Chernobyle,three mile island many people lost their life and how many are still having Genetic disorders. Are these are just normal or average radiations.. Foolish. Better the author go and visit the places and get the real fact instead of data. Chernoblye still the people are not allowed within certain radius. At least let him go to Bhopal and visit the victims and talk about the annual average radiation data

from:  Balaji RajaSekar J M
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 12:14 IST

Really a thought provoking article!Nuclear Energy is the way to go
given the dearth and fast repleting scarce crude resources.The more
and more Nuclear Plants dealing energy crises is inevitable in future.
Protesters should be taken into confidence regarding the safety
measures at KKNP.Some form of safety issues are always associated with
any power plant be it be thermal or hydro.The same can't be
disassociate with the Nuclear also.There are thousands of Nuclear
plant operating all over the world with 20 in India only.We can't be
deterred to meet growing energy need by Nuclear Plant by taking into
account few unfortunate incident like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

from:  Ankit Trivedi
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 12:12 IST

Siddharthan wants a gag on "educated purveyors of motivated misinformation". It should apply not only to so-called scaremongers, but also to those who try to dismiss all fears, especially if they are not experts on nuclear power plants. "The plural of anecdote is not data," (Roger Brinner), even if the anecdotes relate to eminent persons.
The fact is that giants of yesteryear like Bhabha, Raja Ramanna, and PK Iyengar, who could not be influenced by political and other considerations extraneous to science, are gone, and there has been nobody of their calibre to take their place. In the circumstances, I am pessimistic about possibility of an UNBIASED discussion of the matter.
Incidentally, one should note the fact that Kalpakkam N-power plant is Thorium based, and designed and fabricated by Indian scientists and technologists. When it comes to safety or ease of waste disposal, Kalpakkam cannot be compared to uranium based power plants.

from:  T S Raman
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:59 IST

Very sensible article! Kundankulam Plant is uder construction for over 10 years and now just when it is about to get operational, all these protests and satyagrahas have cropped up. The timing is ominous as indeed the manner in which Government has handled the protests. Every project be it Narmada or any other, relief and rehabiliation part remains very badly implemented. A project of national importance like Kundakulam can not be held hostage to the evil machinations of foreign funded NGO, half baked Indian NGOs and others. However, government too has messed up with relief and rehabilitation work and a communication maagement aspect of the crisis. If agitators and environmentalist are now demanding scrapping of the project, it must be dealt with sternly, though. We need to put in place transparent mechanism for such projects for managemet of issues resulting from imact on enviornmental and community livelihood and rehabilation issues.

from:  Surendra Barsode
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:43 IST

Good & informative article.
Instigators are not experts.
However,nobody can declare that there is no RISK. There is RISK,if the
safeguards are not seriously taken up. Electricity is RISK. No two
opinion on this. Every,one educated & uneducated,want it. People get
killed when they do not take safeguards.
With sunami warning system in place & with remote sensing weather
satellites,the risk is too small. I have never seen anywhere else,the running commentry on the testing loading & commissioning of any other nuclear plant,by print & visual media.These politically motivated news media are creating scare.
The Russian contractors on their part are DELAYING the process so much, it is doubted, they are the ones behind the entire episode considering the inordinate delay in completion date. They have overstepped it by more than 33 months!,whereas serious agitation started just 11 months back.

from:  R.Natarajan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:41 IST

A well written article ! Not only stressing the need for civilian nuclear energy, but also the way forward to allay the concerns of protesting villagers and environmentalists.

from:  Aravind
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:32 IST

Excellent Article.
Intelligencia must build pressure on government for estabishment of an efficient and independent Safety Authority.
The Nuclear plant would not have faced such opposition had the Government not displayed its inefficiency through various scams and by mishanding of critical issues of national importance. (Remember the people Voted UPA to power because of Civil-Nuclear Deal).
But today the same people are finding tough to have faith in the government regarding nuclear power plants and this distrust is very well justified and stems from governments own debacles in past and present. Another thought - Does RESERVATIONS in PROMOTIONS also apply to employees of such Safety and Refulatory boards of Nuclear power plants.? If they do, its high time, we seperate these Safety Authorities from Ambit of Reservation. Safety of the lives of our generations cannot be jeopardised in the name of providing social equality.

from:  Prashant Kaushik
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:28 IST

Very informative article. In light of the Coalgate report, people forgot the CAG report on nuclear safety in India . This report which critices AERB has to be looked more seriously . Neither opposition nor Govt seems to be willing to ponder over the issue. Every power source comes with it own curse and boon . It's all up to us to maximize boon and make effort to minimize it's curse. Govt should be putting more effort to educate masses about nuclear energy. Protest and it's demand is not acceptable at this juncture. All of sudden, leader of this movement get enlightened about curse of power plant and started movement. PM who rarely spoke, had already pointed the hand of foreign countries in supporting protest movement .

from:  Pawan Ghildiyal
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 11:13 IST

Thank you, Thank you!! As you rightly said, this is the first logical argument given in this issue. And it levels all the allegations and
claims of the so called environmentalists, liberals and padres. Your
reply about living in Kalpakam or Kudankulam was amazing :). And thank
you Hindu for publishing.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 10:46 IST

You made a good point that NSRA bill needs more attention. Ultra
environmentalists are driving the public opinion in wrong directions. We
need nuclear power to address the power crisis.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 10:39 IST

For future generations nuclear power will be an important source of
energy along with other non conventional source ; Nuclear power is
clean and stable . The damage cased to environment by fossil fuel is
known to all.
The safety technology for nuclear power plant is being upgraded on
regular basis . Fukoshima is of old technology and still it with stood
the tsunami.

Only future will say whether the agitation created is worth or with a
good intention

from:  Janardhanan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 10:33 IST

The major question here is not how safe nuclear power plant is. It is rather how safe is OUR nuclear power plants? Have they ensured all the safety aspects without any complacency before commissioning the plant? We cannot have a "chalta hai" attitude like our Railways for these highly critical plants that pose danger anytime. Concerned authorities should prioritize to implement all safety aspects first, explain the local people how much safe they are and then commission the plant.

from:  jaiganesh
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 10:16 IST

This situation, regarding the protests surrounding Kundankulam, has
arisen because of three reasons:
1. Government's apathy towards the concern of poor people, and hence
instead of getting in discussion with them, using the heavy handed
approach to resolve the impasse.
2. As pointed out by the author, misinformation being spread by some
people with their vested interest. And,
3. Irresponsible behavior of media, in reporting the perception
instead of facts, which off course is the easy way out as you don't
need to research if you are just reporting perceptions.

from:  Piyush Tyagi
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 10:16 IST

In one word, the article is plain 'hogwash'. Since the author's job is at stake I did not expect a
balanced article. Japan is coming out with a new energy policy very soon and they plan to go
"zero nuclear" . Their population was also very docile having been brainwashed by their
"nuclear village", they blindly accepted what the establishment told them, that nuclear energy
was safe. Now they know the truth Fukushima and surrounding areas have been badly
affected, thousands have lost their jobs and have been uprooted from their homes. This has
happened in a high technology country with an amazing infrastructure.

Where and how will India store tons of radioactive waste. Do you trust your Government to
handle this waste when they cannot even clear and scientifically dispose of the garbage in our
filthy cities? What about the dangers of radiation from the uranium mining sites in India?

Renewable energy is the only solution for India in the long run.

from:  Srinivasan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 09:58 IST

Why don't Mr Rahul Siddharthan relocated to Kudankulam before he attempted to write this article.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 09:42 IST

How can anybody trust the Indian Government whether at center or at the state. Crocodile tears of power shortage cannot work any longer. Can anyone believe that the power produced will ever reach the poor villagers. No a big No. The power production is targeted for the thieves in the garb of industrialists who will steal the electricity, underpay the labour, evade Tax and finally siphon of the profits to pamper the politicians and stash the reminder in Swiss Bank. I myself in the power sector engineering for 37 long years and seen projects adding to 40,000 MW cannot find any improvement in power situation in my own village of 10,000plus popululation at Suchindram, K K Distt, TN from the days of 1960. Why go for a dangerous Nuclear Power Project in an area where plenty scope exists for Wind power and Solar Power? Is it just because the locals are poor and their lives are dispensable? Why move so soon from National integration to Regional destruction. We are only in 65th year of freedom.

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 09:17 IST

Well done. I hope more such educated analysis come to the domain so that general awareness is improved. Mention of air travel because of its risks made it as the safest mode of travel is very easy for laymen to understand. With proper regulation and control the benefit of technology is immense. It is through stringent areospace standards during designing and manufacturing we get the higer reliability for aircrafts. We should not stop development, it is sacrosanct. Risk is there all around. Even the adivasis in forest is not absolutely safe.

from:  Ayyappa
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 09:04 IST

Good article raising very valid points.

The gap between the government and the protestors is that of "understanding". The issue and the backlash, according to me, is mainly because the government is trying to push this Plant without first addressing their concerns. Forcibly!!!

Idindakarai is "not" inhabited by illiterate people. It has seen one of the earliest educational institutions in India.

Two points for the government:
1. Talk to the people and make them understand
2. Provide alternative means of livelihood to them

from:  Michael Fernando
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 09:00 IST

A high risk nuclear power plant is a great danger posed in an area where even primary health care facilities are absent. From the pictures of the reactor building itself it is evident that there is a large scale deficiency in the design of the protective dome structure itself. Indian engineers do not have thorough knowledge of the Codal requirements of building design and construction and given the public sector identity of the plant it is likely that serious oversight and liberal deviations would have been passed by the approving engineers. In this scenario it is essential to create confidence in the masses (mostly poor and illiterate) by providing rescue and rehabilitation facilities in large scale in the form of fully staffed Hospitals every 5KM, emergency refuge buildings like night shelters etc in hundreds of numbers spaced at every 1KM inter-distance for a minimum radius of 20 KM around the plant since we cannot guarantee accident free operation of the plant and safety of masses.

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 08:47 IST

Instilling confidence among the locals is the most important step. For this the "leaders" should set the example by shifting their offices and residences to places where there are nuclear power plants, they should live the life they want others to live. Once that happens economic activity also will pick up in such areas. The most unfortunate aspect of nuclear radiaton is that in the undesireable instance of an accident the effect is immediate and generations to come also suffer the effect on genes, for no fault of theirs. No technolgy comes without a disadvantage. Every one of us should reduce our levels of energy consumption and not compete with each other in this mad world. The ultimate test is to see whether we can give the future generations a safer world than what we have lived in.

from:  Tejkumar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 08:35 IST

I agree with the author. India has a poor safety record all across various sectors. Unfortunately the “culture of safety” is missing in us. Against this backdrop taking additional precautions as necessary is justified & worth spending.

The protesters in Kudankulam are ill advised. An oil spill, a fire at a refinery, oil storage area etc. can also cause ever lasting damages. Are we protesting against them? Can we live without petrol, diesel, gas etc.?

Few days ago, there was a fire accident in a cracker factory at Sivakasi? Will these protesters go to Sivakasi & stop the cracker industry altogether?

Demanding additional safety measures is logical. Simply asking an already built plant to be stopped is a meaningless act.

As the technology improves in the coming years, additional safety measures will also develop.

The call for an independent body to oversee the nuclear installations is justified.

from:  V. Govindarajan Singapore
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 08:28 IST

Finally some much needed sanity on the Kudankulam debate. Non violent protest is
important tool for people to express their opinion but it must be based on rationality
that is transparent and open to scrutiny. I have a few points to make.

In an society like ours where inequality (of power, knowledge and wealth) runs deep,
it is becoming difficult to justify why something must be done for the "greater good".
For e.g. why a few must give up their land to built a dam that benefits many or why a
few must allow a nearby nuclear plant that will provide cleaner energy for all when
there is no guarantee of a better life for them - especially in the short term.

Are we asking a few (who are already deprived) to sacrifice and wait for the longer
term benefits - so that the majority can derive benefits in the shorter term? Is this
our definition of the "greater good" or "development"? And what guarantees are we
giving them that the long term benefit will eventually reach them?

from:  Manish Srivastava
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 08:28 IST

In a country where rail accidents can not be avoided, how can one
believe that our nuclear plants will run safely ? If tomorrow we get
a Minister like Ms Banerjee who will sacrifice safety for votes lakhs
will suffer when there is a nuclear accident.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 08:16 IST

The author seems confused and makes self-contradictory statements. While
the independence of the regulatory body is doubted and the relation
between civilian nuclear power industry and defense establishment is recognized , he still wipes the concerns of the local protesters as
unfounded. Will the author please read through the public statements
provided by the protesting organisation? They too are asking the same
questions, and when these questions are unanswered, how can the State
establishment go ahead with a large scale project? Who is actually not
ready for public debates- its surely not the protesting public, it is
the DAE and nuclear industry, which is even left out the ambit of RTI.
Let there be a freeze of all nuclear projects, then the public debates
can begin- but that was never acceptable for the State, it has
forcefully pushed the nuclear option down on the Indian public.

from:  Sreejith Murali
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 07:59 IST

The author seems confused and makes self-contradictory statements. While
the independence of the regulatory body is doubted and the relation
between civilian nuclear power industry and defense establishment is recognized , he still wipes the concerns of the local protesters as
unfounded. Will the author please read through the public statements
provided by the protesting organisation? They too are asking the same
questions, and when these questions are unanswered, how can the State
establishment go ahead with a large scale project? Who is actually not
ready for public debates- its surely not the protesting public, it is
the DAE and nuclear industry, which is even left out the ambit of RTI.
Let there be a freeze of all nuclear projects, then the public debates
can begin- but that was never acceptable for the State, it has
forcefully pushed the nuclear option down on the Indian public.

from:  Sreejith Murali
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 07:59 IST

To adress the growing concerns of indian economy, energy security is most prominent aspect. we are still producing more than 2/3rd of our energy need through coal based and 1/5th through hydro based power generating mechanisms,which is not only exploiting our natural resource but imbalancing ecosystem, that causing severe stress on the wheather and environmental related mechanishms and besides, evacuating tens of thousands of people from their homes without adressing rehabilitative and resettlement measures.we are still lagging in harnessing our potential in renewable energy,particularly wind and solar but these have their own litimations and consequences. so without compromising high standards in operating and saftey mechanisms in nuclear plants and independent regulatory bodies beyond political influence should be ensured and awareness regarding its pros and cons to the public should be made to allay he fear regarding nuclear energy.

Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 07:59 IST

I am working in solar photovoltaic power plant industry from last three years.I would like to correct some mistakes that has been made by my friend.There no need be to worry about power crisis,if the government really wants to solve this problem(see JNNSM). Solar is the best alternative and has proved itself as a future source of energy. The best example is Germany.Who is generating excess power from solar photovoltaic.And not just fulfilling his own energy needs but also exporting to the neighboring countries. Recently china has commissioned 2000MW solar power plant.Then, why not India?Their is an estimate,that the energy need of half of the world can be fulfill, only by covering whole Sahara desert by solar panels,by USING CURRENT TECHNOLOGY. Also, there are several technologies in solar PV which are NON-TOXIC ,and toxic one has been discontinued by IEEE.Also, prices has now closer to fossil fuel based power plants. Thus,now solar is safe, reliable and affordable source of energy.

from:  Narsingh
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 07:43 IST

Dear Siddarthanji, Either you are very much misinformed inspite of your background or you or Hindu are having some purpose in writing this article. Nuke energy is not safe, it is not environment friendly, neither it is clean energy. All such articles are trash. Would you please answer why the doctor who was studying nuke radiation in Chennai was prevented from doing his work? Why the govt is not transparent? Why It is known very much that paid news report is not published but why? for whose interest?

from:  S. Sanyal
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 07:35 IST

In view of recent allegations on personnel in prestigious institutions like Judiciary, Defense and ISRO, it is difficult for a common man to trust any institution in India. It is definitely possible to make a nuclear reactor with highest safety standards. But how much our people from PM to engineers will work towards this goal is definitely a question?

from:  ratankumar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 07:35 IST

A well researched article bringing out the truth. Wish the article is translated into vernacular languages and circulated throughout the country for the information of the public who are misinformed by the activists who seem to have a vested interest in protesting against nuclear power. If necessary safeguards are in place there is no reason why the Kudankulam nuclear plant should go on stream and provide much needed power to the already power starved state where industry has to suffer long periods of load shedding hampering industrial development and economic growth.

from:  R.Vijaykumar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 06:58 IST

The Government on its part has failed miserably to decode whether the
protests are foreign led or genuine domestic voices for issues that
concern the local's livelihood and security.
There is need and still time for the authority to make amends and take
a definite step to carefully look into the concerns of local people
agitating at Koodankulam for it will become a benchmark for the future
nuclear power plants across the country.

from:  Prateek Tanwar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 06:23 IST

Wow. To get up in the morning and be exposed to such distilled intellect is a treat. It maybe fair to state that most of our existing nuclear plants,barring Tarapur, have operated without a blemish.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 06:07 IST

Finally a breath of fresh air. Every sentence exudes reason and logic.
I have recently been seeing only articles that were unduly sympathetic to the protesters. It was obvious the protests were motivated and consent of fishermen was manufactured and not voluntary.
People have the right to ask as many questions as possible about the safety of the project. But all we see is obstructionists and vested interests playing spoilsport. Kudos to Jayalalitha for handling this deftly.

from:  Swarna
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 05:55 IST

Author's substantiated arguments seem convincing and I agree with him that an informed debate is required to allay fears of local poor people. There are few things though that bother me, regarding nuclear power generation, and I certainly sympathize with agitators as well. If nuclear power generation is reliable, safe, and accident free then how come corporates selling equipment are hesitant for providing insurance?. Rather than vouch safety arguments from consumer side, can manufacturer assure and guarantee it?.
Look at Bhopal tragedy, Fukushima (TECO), or to quote the author GM crops as well. How far and fast the culprits brought to book?. Granted, our cities are not clean, but can the author say the same about power generation?. A mistake in this case is going to be very costly and regretting later is not going to provide any solace.
Coming back to the topic, why did Germany, England, and other advanced economies are backing out or doing full scale review?

from:  Vish
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 05:21 IST

Well written. Convincing the unconvinceable is a hard job whatever means you employ. In Neendakara, Kerala where trawling restrictions were imposed for better breeding, similar was the situation. Church supported agitaors. First year 4 were killed when police had to open fire.Second year two more died. And by that time fishermen learned after paying a terrible price that trawling restriction was good for them. Unless the reactor operates for one or two years safely the highly brainwashed villagers will not be calm. When Chernobyl tragedy happened on a festive day only one technician with little knowledge of the reactorwas present in the control room.He did not know what to do when the cooling system got overheated. Any Indian reactor while operating have atleast 2 engineers and 2 scientists all degree holders at any time who will tackle such situations straight away. Unfortunately scientists are poor public relation officers all over the world . Indian scientists are no exception.

from:  PS Nair
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 04:57 IST

Dear Rahul,
"It is a concrete debate about the mechanisms for ensuring safety and transparency. Unfortunately, in all the noise about Kudankulam, this issue has received comparatively little attention in the media."
I am surprised that you say this, since from what I understand, the main topic of debate and what has caused all this chaos has been the complete lack of transparency from the government.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 04:50 IST

The task of mobilizing thousands is not difficult, as has been proven by Kejriwal and Uday Shankar. The question the country has to ask is a) with the turmoil in the middle east, what alternate sources are available for power generation and b) how does a democracy deal with the fundamentals for growth i.e aquisition of land,resources and labour. When you see the Chinese model, they go to any lengths to aquire land,resouces and labour, all in the national interest. How can a democracy achieve growth minus reasonable support by pressure groups. It is truly sad to see that it is so easy to rent a mob in India and this is being fully exploited at Kudankulam etal

from:  sridhar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 04:48 IST

The press never asks the right questions. They are in the business of selling news. The Hindu at least doing a better job publishing some of these well thought articles. The energy requirements can be met if they are developed in a holistic manner with a combination of reducing the consumtion and increasing the production using all different technologies including atomic energy. All different technologies have advantages and disadvantages. Educating the public by the local politicians and civic leaders is important. Poor people may not understand the need for the electricity because they may not have the electricity in the first place. But they can be told that without electricity, they may not have a job. Similarly, mathematics may appear remote even though it is all around them. Educating the public is crucial for prosperity. It is one thing to have a good debate and make decisions and it is entirely different to protest without a debate.

from:  KV Rao
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 04:07 IST

Indian and foreign business and industry are involved in the design, manufacture,supplly and commissioning of any indian nuclear power plant. The tendering and awarding contract for supply, erection and commissioning of the plant are done by a government company under the government's Department of Atomic Energy. Safety assurance supervision is under a government department, and in an era of government -business collusion and corruption, there is no wonder that people are worried about the safety aspects of nuclear power plants.This worry cannot be wished away. The government will have to convince the people that that the Kudankulam nuclear power plant will be as safe as the best in the world. Shooting down protesters is no way to do it.

from:  K.Vijayakuar
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 03:33 IST

One of the best article from Hindu. I am very happy that at least Hindu tried to spread the right information and knowledge to the people unlike other media who like to publish crying women and make heart-melting stories out of it. Well done Hindu.

from:  Dr.Dileep Mampalil
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 03:09 IST

I love this insightful, detailed and thought provocative opinion.
Even Japan after Fukushimha incident not ready to abandon nuclear energy.
Many People who have their own agenda and opinion are spreading rumours for implementing their own idealogy and try to jeopardize the koodamkulam project.
This project has to be implemented at any cost without further delay.
At the same time, government of India must form a independent nuclear safety body to examine and oversight the safety of the plant. It should be indenpendent consitutionally from government pressure like CAG so that it will asserts its opinion fairly with out fear. Finally India should prove to its own people, it can handle these kind of mega projects with international standards.

from:  ilangovan
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 02:02 IST

The most balanced view i have read on Koodankulam issue so far...

from:  Selva
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 01:40 IST

What an article!
This is probably the best writing I've read in The Hindu this year.

from:  Nerus
Posted on: Sep 14, 2012 at 01:22 IST
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