Address concerns over nuclear power safety - The New Indian Express

Address concerns over nuclear power safety

Published: 20th November 2012 12:00 AM

Last Updated: 19th November 2012 11:50 PM

The clean chit the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given to the safety system at the Rawatbhata nuclear power station in Rajasthan is a shot in the arm for the India’s nuclear establishment. To assume that it will end the trouble it is facing against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project is to underestimate concerns of the people. The anti-nuclear campaign got a new lease of life following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. Nonetheless, the concerns the people have over the safety of the existing nuclear plants and the ones being planned are, by and large, genuine. What has worsened the situation is the establishment’s response to the campaign.

The atomic energy department is one of the most secretive organisations of the government, though there is no need for such secrecy. Besides, it has consistently failed to meet the targets of power generation the department had set for itself. Given the acute shortage of power in the country and the difficulties of setting up hydro and thermal power stations, it should have been easy for the department to convince the people about nuclear power. Alas, the people continue to harbour suspicions of radiation and repeat of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

There is not much choice left for the country in meeting the burgeoning demand for power. Nuclear power remains the only option. It is for the nuclear establishment to take the people into confidence by removing what it calls their misapprehensions. Since the IAEA enjoys considerable credibility, it should be possible for the government to invite the agency to visit all the nuclear plants and give an assessment of the safety systems already in place or are being contemplated. This will definitely go a long way in increasing the confidence of the people in the nuclear plants. In any case, the government should end the trust deficit between a section of the people and the nuclear establishment.

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