It’s a telling comment on the state of the Indian media that most of it blacked out the fourth anniversary of the still-continuing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, which fell on March 11. The same media reported breathlessly on the Indian government’s plans to triple domestic nuclear power-generation capacity by 2020-21, and on the “breakthrough” achieved on the nuclear liability issue during Barack Obama’s recent visit to India.
Tag - Nuclear Energy
Swiss radiation experts have confirmed the worst suspicion nurtured by independent observers of West Asia—namely, that the death of Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat in 2004 in France was not natural. Doctors were unable to specify the cause of Arafat’s death, which occurred barely a fortnight after he vomited during a meeting and then lapsed into a deepening coma. No autopsy was conducted in keeping with his widow’s request.
Three recent developments highlight the issue of weapons of mass destruction and India’s policy towards them. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has gone to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), dealing with armaments that figure prominently in the Syrian crisis.
in a judgment giving the green light to the Kudankulam nuclear project, our Supreme Court tells citizens, without a hint of irony, that they must put up with “minor inconveniences” such as exposure to radiation, which causes cancer or genetic damage and is always harmful, because enormous “economic scientific benefits” (sic) will come from nuclear power, which “remains as an important element in India’s energy mix”. “Minor inconveniences”? Tell that to the families of the estimated 34,000 people who died from Chernobyl, to the mothers of thousands of babies which have early thyroid disorders thanks to the Fukushima disaster, to the 80% plus French people who oppose new reactors, or to the countless protestors against Indian nuclear projects, including Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), Fatehabad (Haryana) and Chutka (Madhya Pradesh).
Announcement: Koodankulam -Nuclear Power or People’s Power? A Public Discussion at Council for Social Development, Lodhi Estate (Oct 18, 3:30pm) New Delhi
speakers: Ashwin Gambhir (Prayas Energy group, Pune) and Prof. Praful Bidwai Durgabai Deshmukh Chair, Council for Social Development and Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace
Even the most zealous supporters of nuclear power generation should logically concede three things to their opponents. First, after the grave disaster at Fukushima, it is natural for people everywhere to be deeply sceptical of the safety claims made for nuclear power, and for governments to phase out atomic reactors. That’s exactly what’s happening in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and now Japan.
The movement against the Koodankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu has entered a new phase with a Jal-satyagraha following the repressive police action of September 10. More than 120 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement expressing solidarity with the protesters, and calling for serious engagement with them on vital issues of safety. The signatories include former Chief of Naval Staff L Ramdas, former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian and former Planning Commission member SP Shukla, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A Gopalakrishnan, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen, scientists PM Bhargava, D Balasubramaniam, Satyajit Rath, MV Ramana and Suvrat Raju, social scientists Romila Thapar, Sumit and Tanika Sarkar, Rajeev Bhargav, Amit Bhaduri, Manoranjan Mohanty, Gyanendra Pandey, Achin Vanaik and Zoya Hasan, writers Adil Jussawalla, Arundhati Roy and Arvind Krishna Mehrotraq, dancer Leela Samson, artists Ghulam Shaikh, SG Vasudev, Vivan Sundaram and Sheba Chhachhi, and many other scholars and social activists such as Vandana Shiva, Aruna Roy and Ashish Kothari.
India’s former President APJ Abdul Kalam brought himself no credit by visiting the Koodankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu, and declaring it “100 percent safe”. The idea that any technology, especially a complex hazard-prone one like a nuclear power, is “100 percent safe” is patently unscientific. All technologies carry finite risks. The more complicated, energy-dense, and dependent on high-pressure high-temperature systems they are, the higher the risk.
If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to insult the people agitating against the Koodankulam nuclear reactors at India’s southern tip, he could have found no better way than agreeing to meet their delegation on October 7— only to have Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Secretary Srikumar Banerjee lecture them on the virtues of nuclear power.
In an unusual move, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to halt construction of two nuclear reactors at Koodamkulam in Tirunelveli district, where more than 100 local residents have been on a hunger-strike against the project since September 11, supported by tens of thousands.
''The government has shown crass insensitivity towards nuclear safety by announcing on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that it will go ahead with the Jaitapur atomic power project. This is on a par with the callousness of the statement by India’s ambassador to Japan on Hiroshima Day in 1998, at Hiroshima, that he hopes “the Japanese people will understand” why India had acquired nuclear weapons.
It also mocks safety concerns just when the Fukushima multiple-reactor disaster is unfolding and the plant has released cancer-causing iodine-131 and caesium-137 in quantities similar to those from Chernobyl.''
''Disregarding calls for caution arising from the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the Indian government has announced that it is going ahead with the Jaitapur nuclear project. This will mean imposing reactors of an untested design upon an unwilling people and a uniquely precious ecosystem. There has been no independent and credible review of India's nuclear power policy, nor a proper safety audit of our nuclear installations after Fukushima. Public-spirited citizens are again called upon to urge the government to reconsider its stand, and to demand that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board be given a truly independent and powerful mandate and that its members be selected with great care and prudence. More than 60 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement. The prominent signatories include former Chiefs of Naval Staff Admiral L Ramdas and Vishnu Bhagwat, former Major-General SG Vombatkere, former Planning Commission member SP Shukla, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A Gopalakrishnan, former vice-chancellors Deepak Nayyar and Mushirul Hasan, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen, social scientists Romila Thapar, Sumit and Tanika Sarkar, Ramachandra Guha, Rajeev Bhargava, Amit Bhaduri, Achin Vanaik and Zoya Hasan, and scientists PM Bhargava, Satyajit Rath, MV Ramana, Suvrat Raju, writer Arundhati Roy, dancer Leela Samson, artistes Krishen Khanna, Ghulam Shaikh, SG Vasudev, Vivan Sundaram and Bharti Kher, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, and many others, including scholars, and social and environmental activists such as Vandana Shiva and Aruna Roy.''
Three partial core meltdowns and other crises have precipitated a nuclear nightmare. This is a wake-up call for the world.
What do social scientists Romila Thapar, Ramachandra Guha and Jean Dreze, dancers Leela Samson and Malavika Sarukkai, former bureaucrats/diplomats SP Shukla, Nirupam Sen and EAS Sarma, retired Navy chief L Ramdas, writers Arundhati Roy and Nayantara Sahgal, scientists MV Ramana and PM Bhargava, artists Krishen Khanna and Vivan Sundaram, and former vice-chancellors Mushirul Hasan and Deepak Nayyar, have in common? The answer is, concern about the safety of nuclear power, highlighted by the still-unfolding disaster at Fukushima in Japan. This impelled these eminent individuals to sign a statement demanding a thorough and independent review of India’s nuclear power programme, and pending it, a moratorium on further nuclear projects.
March 30, 2011
Dear Editor/News Editor/Chief Reporter,
For immediate publication
The grave nuclear crisis in Japan has highlighted the issue of safety in atomic installations the world over, including in India. It has also prompted the demand for a thorough safety review of nuclear installations.
More than 60 eminent citizens from different walks of life have signed the following statement calling for an independent safety review of nuclear installations in India, and pending it, a moratorium on further nuclear activities.
The prominent signatories include former Chief of Naval Staff L Ramdas, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore director P Balaram, former Planning Commission member SP Shukla, former vice-chancellor of Delhi University Deepak Nayyar, former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A Gopalakrishnan, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nirupam Sen, historians Romila Thapar, Sumit Sarkar, Mushirul Hasan and Ramachandra Guha, economists Amit Bhaduri and Jean Dreze, psychologist Ashis Nandy, scientists PM Bhargava, Satyajit Rath and MV Ramana, writers Arundhati Roy and Nayantara Sehgal, painters Krishen Khanna, Gulam Shaikh, SG Vasudev and Vivan Sundaram, dancer-choreographer Leela Samson, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar, and many other social scientists, scholars and activists, including Aruna Roy.
The full list of signatories appears at the bottom.
In view of the critical public importance of the issue, could you please carry the statement in full in your paper, channel or wire service? Publication of the entire list of signatories on your website would be greatly appreciated.
Best regards, Praful Bidwai
PS: In case you want to contact or interview any of the signatories, please contact the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace at (011) 26517814 and 65663958.
As the global nuclear industry's fate hangs in the balance, India must rethink its nuclear power expansion plans and impose a moratorium on new reactors.
Fukushima has highlighted the supreme importance of nuclear safety. Governments, especially in the West, cannot afford to ignore public concerns about safety. Switzerland has cancelled its plans to build three new reactors. And Germany’s conservative government has reversed its controversial decision to prolong the phaseout of all nuclear reactors. Nuclear authorities in many countries are questioning the assumptions on which they designed reactor safety systems and operating parameters. But in the Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), complacency and smugness prevail. Its secretary denies that there is “a nuclear emergency” in Japan, only “a purely chemical reaction”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised a safety review of all DAE installations. He said his government “attaches the highest importance to nuclear safety”; the DAE has “been instructed to undertake immediate technical review of all safety systems… particularly with a view to ensuring that they would be able to withstand… tsunamis and earthquakes”. That’s a red herring.
Announcement: 'After the Japanese Disaster' -Talk by Praful Bidwai on 24 March 2011 (at Delhi University)
The Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, Invites you to a talk and discussion After the Japanese Disaster: Does Nuclear Energy have a Global Future? by Praful Bidwai, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, Eminent columnist
The colossal hubris, ignorance and smugness of India’s nuclear czars take one’s breath away. The day Japan’s crisis took a decisive turn for the worse, with an explosion in a third Fukushima reactor and fresh radiation leaks, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) secretary Sreekumar Banerjee declared that the nuclear crisis “was purely a chemical reaction and not a nuclear emergency as described by some section(s) of media”. Nuclear Power Corporation chairman S.K. Jain went one better: “There is no nuclear accident or incident. It is a well-planned emergency preparedness programme which the nuclear operators…are carrying out to contain the residual heat after…an automatic shutdown”.
If Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan thought he could convince the people of Jaitapur, in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district, of the virtues of the giant nuclear power complex which is being built there, he must have been sorely disappointed by his February 26 visit to the area. He harangued and taunted the 8,000-strong crowd, told people they were being misled by “outsiders” who “don’t want to see India progress”, and unleashed the aggressive, abusive industries minister (and former Chief Minister) Narayan Rane upon them. Rane had earlier declared: “No outsider who comes to Jaitapur to oppose the project will return (alive).”
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