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Monday, 17 June 2013

Nuclear Power Plant: Koodankulam, India.

“There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveller came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveller who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

The above passage is a parable from the Bible. India is said to be the fifth largest in Electricity Sector, and has an installed capacity of 205.34 Gigawatt with an additional captive power of 31.5 Gigawatt, and fourth largest energy consumer of the world. Over 65% India’s generated electricity comes from thermal power followed by 21.53% from hydro power, 3.75% from nuclear power and 12% from renewable energies.

India at present is suffering from power shortage. The Government of India says, shortage can be partly solved if the Nuclear Power Plant in Koodankulam starts to operate. The operation in Koodankulam nuclear power plant has been delayed due to anti-nuclear protests by the Koodankulam people along with NGO’s. Even if the koodankulam nuclear power plant is operated, it cannot be able to eliminate the power crisis fully.

The shortage did not happen all of a sudden,It was there for some years,now it has become acute. The causes for the shortage of power is due to shortages of fuel,poor pipeline connectivity,poor infrastructure,distribution and transmission loss,illegal tapping of lines,underestimating the consumption by faulty electric meters etc. Neither the Present Government nor the Past Governments took initiative to settle these issues.

The Government in order to safeguard itself from the issues that has lead to power shortage,cleverly puts the blame on the anti-nuclear protestors, and hid from the public the true facts of power shortage. Is Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant operation is the only way to solve the power shortage?

Koodanklam is situated in South India.An inter-governmental agreement was signed between Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the year 1988 for the construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Koodankulam.The Construction of the plant is delayed due to political disturbance in Russia, and the construction began only in the year 2001.

The anti-nuclear protestors were blamed of creating chaos after the plant construction is over but the truth is,the protest started in the year 1989 itself  by NGO’s but it did not yield any result at the initial stage due to lack of support from the Koodankulam people.The Koodankulam people sold their land for a low amount with an assurance from the Government that they will be given jobs in the Power Plant but they were not given jobs as promised, and thy did not take this seriously because they thought that the jobs in the plant may not be related to them.

The Koodankulam people joined the protest after they came to know that they were not only deceived of jobs but their livelihood is also in danger.They were afraid of  displacement because they were informed by the Nuclear Power Plant authorities that they cannot live near the nuclear plant,or do fishing on the surrounding areas.They also fear that the discharge from the power plant into the water will lead to marine life poisoning.The Government says that it has plan to rehabilitate the Koodankulam people but until now it does not take any steps to rehabilitate them.

The Fukushima incident also triggered fear among the Koodankulam people.The Government sent delegates to convince them claiming that the plant is 100%, safe but they could not be convinced and they argue that the Fukushima accident did not happen due to technical failure in the plant but due to natural disaster. So,they question, What will be the consequence, if natural disaster strikes the plant?.

The Government of Tamil Nadu used police force to disperse the protestors but their attempt was failed and the protest has been going on.According to some scientist,In the nuclear plant electricity can be produced from other energies,so there is not going to be any loss in stopping the operation.

Accidents happen everywhere and it is unavoidable but preventable in certain circumstances.Many argue that fearing accidents will halt the development of a country.There is a difference between nuclear related power plant accidents and other accidents.Usually in accidents the victims will be of those who present in the place but in nuclear disaster it not only kills those who present around but it will also cause disabilities for generations.

Indian Citizens are not robots.A robot needs power to do certain commands but it cannot sense anything of it’s own.The Government could have thought that Indian’s need power so they will not care even if it is at the cost of human lives but their plans were thwarted and Indians proved that they are not robots.I came across a statement in social networking sites where it raises the question: “whether those who claim that the plant is 100% safe are ready to live near the plant?”.

Now let us come to the parable.The Government is acting like a rich man, and the Koodankualm people can be compared with the poor man.Though Government has so many options to generate and prevent the loss of electricity.It is stubborn in operating Koodankulam Power Plant to generate electricity by displacing the Koodankulam people and destroying their livelihood.

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