From villagers to experts: what they say?
There is popular fear after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster!
But experts surveyed here say, almost uniformly, nuclear power is a superior solution to the all other alternatives.
Coal has ruined the environment, in USA and China, notably.
Oil and natural gas in short supply and prices fluctuate beyond affordability in s sustained manner.
Solar, wind and biofuels have their own limitations.Time to give a pause, some time and space for a relook at India’s nuclear vision and ambitions.
India has to articulate a new energy policy vision Growth, environment and alternative energy sources Now no clear vision for alternative energies Solar, wind power, biofuel are developed in the West. What about India?
A pause button would encourage anti-nuclear protestor’s agenda?
So, go ahead with the project as it is?
That seems to be the mindset of the new thinking?
Yes, this how the latest editorial in The Hindu (April 29, 2011) puts the current thinking in New Delhi. Yes, it seems so considering the very many ironies in the current decision making and the current engulfing confusion that makes the government’s functioning in Delhi.
See first the dates. The PM chairs the meeting, ironically and tragically also on the very day when the world, yes the outside world, not in any noticeable way in India, remembered the Chernobyl tragedy of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster. There have been many articles on the occasion. The PM or his colleagues might not care to remember that day nor did any of the high and mighty in the hierarchy said anything.
But the media said many things on that occasion.
And much more crucial is the fact that the USA, the patron-saint of the current incumbent PM and the regime, though lately they had shown some courage and went ahead and chose the European jet fighters for the Indian Air Force.
The nuclear lobby is much more powerful. This time we have not been told, certainly not at the Jaitapur meetings, the protests and the police firings, no one told, as far as we know, that it is more than 30 years since the happening at the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the USA they had not built any more nuclear power plant, right?
So, the USA, the most energy-consuming nation didn’t think it right to go for new nuclear power plants since the Three Mile Island accident.
Now, the Chernobyl and the latest, the Japanese Fuskushima nuclear disaster.
Even before the dust, as they say, settled down the PM had undertaken a 5-day overseas trip and went all the way to Kazakhstan ,where is it on the global map, and for heaven’s sake he has concluded another nuclear pact and spoken very enlighteningly about the advantages of nuclear power and this is where we stand now.
As the Hindu wrote in the editorial, every word in the editorial sounds ironical, official assurances of transparency, the promise to put the post-Fukushima reviews of nuclear safety in the public domain and the latest, enactment of a new law on independent safety regulatory body etc are all; very ironical indeed given the latest developments in Delhi. The very functioning of routine institutions, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Lok Sabha has been reduced to a farce! There are grave questions of credibility and the legitimacy of the members of Parliament behaving as law unto themselves.
Can the PAC be converted into a shouting match and disruption and a new coalition with the SP and BSO MPs making for a quorum and also for joining hands with the DMK, the Congress MPs seem to set new standards of parliamentary behaviour.
So, where is the form and propriety, protocol?
The draft report of the PAC, for whatever it is worth, is now in the public domain. After Anna Hazare, everything in the Indian public life is now subjected to public curiosity and public scrutiny.
So, the draft report only makes the public fears and the public scepticism confirmed.
The PM, the PMOI, the Cabinet Secretariat and the former Finance Minister P.Chidambaram, the way they went about in the sicharge of their functions would raise serious questions of the credibility of this government.
Manmohan Singh whatever may be his claims; he can’t justify much of what he had done so far in office.
There can’t be any easy excuse of get-away from facing the realities and the consequences.
The 2G scam is before the Supreme Court and it makes one extremely worried and concerned as for the health of the Indian polity and its democratic credentials. It looks as things are in the moment that Dr.Singh can’t go on as he imagines he is capable of.
The protest at the Jaitapur nuclear complex, the proposed complex is not going to any simply affairs of routine ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The protest again the nuclear power as an energy option is now dim.
The Indian public won’t be reassured any more by the bland reassurances by the PM nor by the very smart-talking Jairam Ramesh, the environmental minister.
The latest issue of the “Fortune” magazine (April 11 2011) No.5 has carried out a survey of opinion of six experts from the very filed where they have contributed some significant wisdom an expertise. Steward Brand, the editor of the White Earth Catalogue, Whole Earth Discipline and Ecopragmatist Manifesto notes that the 1986 Chernobyl, before that the Three Mile Island accident, now Fuskishima, he says the radioactive spread, the release of radioactive stuff is not yet on such a vast scale.
The media handled the coverage with restraint. Mr.Nathan Myhrvold, 13 years in Microsoft, now founded Intellectual Ventures says that older nuclear plants are different from the new ones being built by Westinghouse and GE. The real problems with the nuclear plants are the spent fuel storage. In the US Yucca Mountain storage consumed more billions and decades. No solution. In Tarapur also, no solution!
These our scientists too don’t talk about openly.
Can we trust the Singh regime to change all that with its proposed “independent regulatory body”?
The experience so far doesn’t raise any panic. Yet, now, whether the world can go forward for new nuclear renaissance?
The new WESTINGHOUSE AP1000 DESIGN IS SAFER, IT HAS A PASSIVE COOLNG SYSTEM, and the FUKUSHIMA have a 40-year old boiling system. So, it can be a safe way forward for new nuclear plants. But he warns that it can’t make us complacent. Tomorrow, in China or India something might happen, he warns us. At the same time, says this expert, that high concentrations of energy, be it gasoline or natural gas going through a pipeline underneath in your neighbourhood can explode and create as much disasters as nuclear plant explosion.
In the USA, the four nuclear reactors that are being built by the Westinghouse means, it is reported, additional 5,000 new jobs! This is how the Indian nuclear industry is also seen in the USA. Yes, the current setback for the USA in losing the defence order for new fighter jet planes meant a setback for the Prime Minister who sees his political base also owing to US strategic support for his continuation in office. So, there is a widely suspect scepticism for the Prime Minister’s present urgency to push the Jaitapur nuclear facility.
This further complicates the atmosphere for a cool and detached and a balanced outlook for nuclear power industry in India.
India has to explore all the alternative energy sources.
Germany is an example. Germany has abandoned the old nuclear plants. It has shut down the older plants. It didn’t go for newer nuclear plants. It has gone for the aternative energies, specially, the wind power.
So each country has to review its nuclear industry history. So far, the Indian nuclear industry was based on the pretext of India seeks atomic power for peaceful uses. This claim is no more valid.
We are in a nebulous situation. Indian nuclear power, nuclear strategic claims are all mixed and confused and contradictory in some ways.
This, Geroge Bush himself acknowledged.
Even now, our vision, if such a word can be deployed is blurred as far as our nuclear “ambitions” as concerned.
Now, under the current state of Manmohan Singh’s dispensation there is every reason to go slow. To give a pause. To give some room for a wider public debate. To push matters as they have done in Jaitapur is to create more tensions in the policy. It could destabilise the g overnment.
He makes a very insightful statement that we have to see the issues globally, not from our own narrow, national perspectives. In Japan it was both earthquake and tsunami, tsumani is a Japanese word says another expert.
In the USA there are other reasons. So, for India too it may have to consider other dangers, environment certainly. So, there is not much to worry, it seems. There could be much more, a bigger calamity, he says and he points to climate change as the bigger threat, a new threat altogether. Mr.Micheael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, an environmental group of million members. He says that the USA was fighting for phasing out the coal-fired power stations, the 150th proposal for coal fired plant was blocked and we considered a victory. Now, the nuclear power plants too must be opposed?
No, he says there is alternative.
Iowa State has now 20% win power, Portugal has 45% solar. Now there are plans for 25% of off-shore supplies for US electricity needs. After the US experience with the BP gulf spill, there is much environmental concern for drilling more oil wells.
In India too we have now some other problem with our off shore drilling of oil and gas wells.
Reliance D^ well in the KG basin is not yielding as much output as it was promised and expected by the government. Gas output is hovering at about 50 million standard metres per day and it is lower than 20 per cent down. The point is that we have to articulate a new comprehensive energy policy vision.
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