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Don’t Impose The Koodankulam Reactors: Nuking protests mocks democracy

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.

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Don’t rush through the Jaitapur nuclear project, urge concerned citizens

''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.''

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Remove the smokescreen

The disclosure by the Centre for Science and Environment that 11 of the 12 leading brands of honey sold in India contain high levels of harmful antibiotics should make us acknowledge our failure to evolve and enforce environmental and health standards. Similar disclosures were made about pesticides in soft drinks and coliform bacteria in 'safe' bottled water. More distressing is the documentation since the 1980s of high content of pesticides and other toxins, including lead, in a majority of samples of foodgrain, vegetables, meat, eggs and milk tested by public laboratories.

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Yawning nuclear void

The Mayapuri cobalt-60 episode shows Delhi University scientists were reprehensible and proves again that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is too inept, unreliable and compromised to perform its assigned functions. We need another agency.

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Regulating the regulator

One of the greatest failures of governance in India lies in appalling poor regulation of entrepreneur activities in the public interest. This is as true of vehicular pollution—less than 200 inspectors for Delhi’s 5 million-plus registered motor vehicles—as it is of such diverse areas as natural gas, education, and the higher judiciary. It is often comfortingly thought that self-regulation is the answer given the near-impossibility of reforming our lethargic and corrupt bureaucracy. Alas, this is largely an illusion.

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