By Rigya Singh:
After the wide-spread scare the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has created worldwide, the protests against the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant have intensified in Maharashtra. The locals along with several NGOs and opposition parties are rallying to end this issue once and for all.
It promises to be the largest nuclear reactor in the world with a production of 9,900 MW of electrical power which will provide electricity to 10 million homes in India. On December 6, 2010, an agreement was signed between AREVA, a French nuclear engineering firm and the Indian government for the construction of two EPR (European Pressurised Reactors) for its first stage which will be operational by 2018. Also, by 2050, the Indian government plans to meet a quarter of the countries’ electricity requirements through nuclear power projects with 5 being built and 39 under consideration.
Nuclear energy is an efficient substitute for fossil fuels which are fast depleting resources now. It is a clean fuel, does not contribute to air pollution expect for the production of radioactive waste whose disposal is a major concern. Nuclear by-products have to be stored for sufficient amount of time to contain the radiations. There is no place in the world which can safely enclose and confine these radiations. With construction of a nuclear power plant, comes the issue of security, safety and protection of the environment. It has long term risks too. Just take a look at the Chernobyl Disaster (1986), the Three Mile Island accident (1979) and the recent Fukushima Disaster (2011).
Madban plateau is a haven for bio-diversity and to rule it out as a barren plateau is equal to blasphemy. Construction of the JPNN will destroy the flora and fauna of the plateau. If the nuclear plant becomes operational it will have tight security around its perimeters and this will disrupt the lives of the fisherman. Moreover, the hot water discharge from the plant will affect the marine life in that area. This will snatch the livelihood of over 20,000 people. Should we overlook the interest of the common man for the sake of common man? Who will benefit from this plant if not them?
Nuclear power production is expensive due to the high cost of the fuel and the money it takes to build sturdy reactors. The JPNN’s costs calculate up to $9.3 billion. The electrical power produced from the plant will also not be cheap. The area of Madban is prone to earthquakes with over 95 of them being recorded from 1985-2010. This poses as a serious threat as the area can also be hit by tsunamis. The aftermath is something we all have already witnessed. Do we want to take the risk and go ahead with the plan without worrying about the future?
Former president of India and nuclear scientist Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam recently expressed his concerns over the general safety surrounding the nuclear plants following the Japanese disaster but showed a green flag to continue with its schemes during his Diamond Jubilee Lecture at DEI Deemed University, Dayalbagh. He said and I quote “Nuclear plants should and would continue to operate. Accidents did happen but there were always solutions to problems and precautions to be taken.”
Whether the Indian government carries forward the project which it is planning to with a recent announcement or it is stopped by the opponents, it has to be noted that nuclear power has its fair share of cons and they can outweigh the advantages. If it cannot help the people and they are protesting against it, the government should listen to their grievances too as that is how a democracy functions.
What do you think? Will the Jaitapur nuclear power plant be a boon or a bane for India? Drop your views in the comments section below.