It is unfortunate that the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is being held up due to protests by villagers of the area. Those leading the agitation and politicians supporting it should change their views as former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has asserted, based on extensive research, that there is no need for any panic as the plant has adequate safety features.
Power plants that run on fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, fly ash, etc. Nuclear power plants are much safer. We cannot neglect development which depends on power generation. We have to take some risk. The agitation against the Kudankulam plant should be withdrawn so that power generation can be started without delay.
I thank Mr. Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh for their timely, informative and well-researched special essay on nuclear power (Nov. 6). It is clear that nuclear energy is the only reliable and clean source of energy for the future. Every option is associated with some risk or danger. It is not enough to put international standard safety systems in place. We must ensure that these measures are in working condition.
Those opposing the Kudankulam project should appreciate the scientific facts rather than give importance to emotional or political considerations. They should be ready for an open debate with the scientific community. The political parties of Tamil Nadu, too, should go into the merits of setting up the nuclear plant and take a leading role in addressing people's concerns.
That the protesters have expressed disappointment over Mr. Kalam's unequivocal support to the Kudankulam project and rejected his endorsement of the nuclear plant is hardly surprising, considering the political nature of the protest. You can wake up a person who is asleep but not one who pretends to be asleep.
The argument by the protesters that India should follow countries like Belgium which have closed down nuclear reactors post-Fukushima is unacceptable. They should understand that ours is a developing country with energy needs which are much more than small and developed countries.
It is easy to eliminate ignorance but very difficult to eradicate erroneously held beliefs. The former President has made a wonderful attempt to remove the fears in the minds of those agitating against the Kudankulam power project.
Many myths have hindered the progress of science in the past. When the gas stove was introduced in the 1960s, many were against it as they thought it would explode. X-rays generate radiation. Can we do away with their use? With all safety measures in place, nuclear energy is the only option for a developing country like India.
I thank Mr. Kalam for enlightening the masses. Politicising every issue seems to be the order of the day. Kudankulam is no exception. The civilisation has grown, enlarged and sustained itself through scientific advancement and artistic achievements. India, which wants to become a superpower by 2020, needs to develop its scientific potentials to make the vision a reality.
Fuel price hike
The recent hike in the price of petrol has generated resentment among the general public and many political parties (“The price of mismanagement,” Nov. 7). It is not about the rich getting affected. It is more about the rise in the prices of other goods the hike will lead to. As for the government's argument that the hike is due to the increase in crude prices and the decline of the rupee, will it reduce the prices if the situation stabilises? People, on their part, should reduce their consumption however affluent they are. The government, too, should reduce wasteful consumption. It can make a beginning by reducing the convoy accompanying VIPs.
Rising inflation and the gradual rise in the prices of petrol are a reflection of the UPA government's failure. Dr. Singh should understand that inequity is widespread. The government wants to neither cut taxes nor provide subsidies. The ultimate burden, therefore, falls on people. The rising inflationary pressure has dented people's savings.
To all those who argue that high petrol prices will not affect the common man, I wish to point out that a vast section of the middle and lower middle class and the poorest of the poor depends on petrol for transport. A strong recommendation for using the bicycle is good but cycling on our treacherous roads would be suicidal. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's contention that more deregulation of fuel prices is called for and that we should allow markets to find their level may apply to commodities that are in good demand and supply, and when many players market a product. Can the logic apply in the case of fuel? The industry is virtually a monopoly. We cannot leave the essential item to market forces.
Lily Anne Abraham,
As the sad news of Bhupenda's demise reached me, buku hum hum kare , rendered in his unique, deep baritone voice, started to play in my ears. I remember how, as a child, I walked 50 km from Golaghat to Jorhat just to have a glimpse of the great maestro. I could not describe my excitement when he invited me to his Mumbai flat in 2001. An era has ended in Assamese music.
The passing away of the noted musician has ended the era of classical music mixed with rich earthen flavour. When Bhupen Hazarika sang, one could smell the rain drenched soil of Assam. That Bollywood did not use his gifted voice and talent much is unfortunate.
A versatile singer, a Dadasaheb Phalke awardee, highly educated and, more important, a perfect human being has passed away. Bhupen Hazarika used the rich folk heritage of Assam to the fullest in his evergreen songs. His songs carried the flavour of Assam, and had a touch of romanticism which mesmerised a commoner as well as music connoisseurs. The importance of river Ganga was heightened when he sang Ganga amar maa , O Ganga behti ho . Can anyone ever forget Dil hoom hoom kare (Rudaali), Zara dheere zara dheeme (Ek Pal), Naiono mein darpan hai (Aarop), besides his numerous popular Assamese and Bengali songs? He was indeed an institution in himself.
Only the creative works of a person make him immortal. Bhupen Hazarika will never die; he will forever remain in our memory, thanks to his sonorous songs.