Renowned agricultural scientist M. S. Swaminathan has suggested that consultative committees be formed in and around the Kudankulam area, comprising civil society representatives and nuclear technology experts, so that the local people could be engaged on a continuous basis on the nuclear power project's safety aspects.
Prof. Swaminathan, speaking in support of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, maintained that it is a “symbol of clean energy” and that scientists had done as far as they could to address people's concerns on various aspects.
“Consultation process should not be a just a one-time affair. Even though nuclear scientists have done what is possible by them to convince people on safety aspects, there are still some voices of concern on the Kudankulam issue. So, we have to talk to people regularly and there has to be an attitudinal change on the both sides. Only civil society's participation can ensure social sustainability,” he added.
Prof. Swaminathan, Chairman of M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, was speaking at the inauguration of an international workshop and conference on ‘Renewable energy and climate change – exploring opportunities for sustainable development 2012', organised by the School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, Madurai Kamaraj University, here on Thursday.
The three-day conference from April 5 to 7 is being organised by the MKU with Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE), Planters Energy Network, Centre for Awareness and Research in Environment, Puducherry and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India.
Touching upon a range of issues, the agricultural scientist said climate change, rising temperature and sea level were contemporary challenges. “Along with environmental sustainability, we have to give importance to social sustainability also. In fact, it was our former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who added this aspect at the Stockholm conference in 1972,” he said.
Prof.Swaminathan said it was very essential to study the impact of climate change on people. Those who lived along the sea were affected the most and became ‘climate refugees'. Anticipating changes in the weather and finding ways to checkmate the sea level rise had to be looked into.
On the energy front, he called for massive tapping of energy sources such as wind, solar, biogas and biomass. “We can say agriculture is the largest solar energy harvesting enterprise. It is time to bring down the cost of appliances used for tapping solar energy because it is expensive right now,” he has suggested.
Prof. Swaminathan laid stress on involving local communities and panchayat representatives in a big way to create awareness about the positive aspects of nuclear energy, space technology and biotechnology.