The editorial “The meltdown of reason” (Sept. 13) says that in view of the Madras High Court clearing the project and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board “giving its nod for ordering fuel in the first unit,” the next port of call for the protesters should “be the Supreme Court.” This is ill-conceived for, the Union and State governments, by ordering the placement of fuel rods, have closed all avenues for further negotiation.
However, to dismiss the anti-nuclear movement “as illegitimate, anti-national or foreign inspired” is the long-standing policy of the establishment. The protesters have, in fact, raised issues directly affecting the development and survival of future generations.
The main cause for the struggle at Kudankulam lies with the management of the nuclear plant. They stalled the process of loading fuel only to get the green signal from courts which were dealing with petitions against the functioning of the project. The courts have done their job and are in favour of its functioning. Now, sequencing the operations is the internal business of those in charge of the project and there is no necessity to announce their plans to the media. It is media publicity that has led to the present situation.
The protesters should not compare the Fukushima plant with the Kudankulam unit. We have spent thousands of crores on this project and if we do not operate the plant on time, the growth of the country will be drastically affected.
How many of us, for that matter the anti-KKNPP protesters, know the real benefits of nuclear energy? The protests are based on misguided fears that a nuclear plant always spells disaster. Besides allaying fears about safety, had both the Centre and the State taken the people into confidence and communicated the beneficial aspects of the project more effectively, we would have been spared the current impasse.
Though I am far away from Kudankulam, I am with the agitators in mind and in spirit. Those who support the nuclear power plant do not have one in their own backyard. Let alone a nuclear reactor,
I am sure they will not allow even a mobile phone tower or an electric transformer to come up anywhere near their property. For a moment, I agree with all the big names who tell us that the nuclear plant is 100 per cent safe. But how can I trust the government? If one looks at disaster management in the country, there are many negative examples before us — the Bhopal and endosulfan tragedies.
Of late, the governments at the Centre and State have developed a refractory trait which helps them not pay heed to any democratic means of agitation over core issues. The conveners of the anti-nuclear movement have been projected as anti-social elements.
The experience of Dupont, a multinational, is worth recalling. When Dupont started to produce gunpowder during World War II, frequent explosions occurred at its factory in which many workers lost their lives as they were involved in grinding gunpowder. Repeated orders to ensure the safety of workers made no difference. Finally, the management decided to instruct its top executives to move into residential quarters that were constructed as close as possible to the manufacturing facility. Things changed dramatically.
The fear of a nuclear accident is not unnatural. It is one of the greatest follies of officials that they have not been able to address popular fears about the safety of nuclear reactors in the very early stage of their development.
Energy security is inevitable. If people oppose clean energy, the development of our nation will be jeopardised.
Raushan Lal Das,
The agitators cannot expect the public to support their cause by merely invoking scary scenarios of the Fukushima disaster. There is no strong anti-nuclear sentiment in the country.
No political party has talked about freezing the civilian nuclear power programme. Do the protesters really expect the government to convert the ready-to-generate-power reactor into a nuclear museum? They should enlist public support for ensuring that the KKNPP maintains stringent safety protocols.