Friday, March 9, 2012

The Hindu : Today's Paper / OPINION : How Fukushima is relevant to Kudankulam

The Hindu : Today's Paper / OPINION : How Fukushima is relevant to Kudankulam

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Prof.T.Shivaji Rao,
Director, Center for Environmental Studies, GITAM University, Visakhapatnam


1.       Indian Prime Minister is having the thinking and cultures which are akin to that of the pre-married Kalidas who was considered by the intelligent advisors of the King as an idiot who could not grasp even the natural truths based on commonsense. The messengers of the king saw that while sitting on the outer edge of the branch of a tree he was cutting at  its base connection to the tree Kalidas failed to grasp that it will fall  down on the ground and  kills him instantly.
2.       In the case of the Kudankulam nuclear plant the Prime Minister is asserting that without compromising on the safety of the nuclear plant the project should be completed and operated.  Due to wrong thinking he fails to grasp  that one cannot have the cake and eat it too.
3.       In the case of Kudankulam nuclear plant, the Prime Minister is asserting that without compromising on the safety of the reactors, the project should be operated. Due to lack of scientific bent of mind, he fails to know that one cannot have the cake and eat it too.  The Nuclear power promoters are also working on the same lines like the Prime minister as most of them  do not know what is meant by nuclear safety as defined by the Guidelines on Nuclear safety published by the International Atomic Energy agency[IAEA] and also American Nuclear regulatory Commission as published in their web sites:                                                                 
4.       Infact the expert committees constituted by the Tamilnadu state and the Union Government to study the safety aspects of the Kudankulam reactors are experts in fields other than the complex nuclear safety problem and they do not qualify as experts  as defined under Sections 45 and 51 of the Indian Evidence Act.  They cannot be  considered as experts  because they are not able to prove nuclear safety based upon the foundations of  cogent reasoning in their averments and they are not able to boldly come before the public with copies of Environmental Impact Assessment and Nuclear safety analysis with detailed reasoning for the questions posed by the public on  nuclear safety. People  do not know if these key reports are prepared in a proper way.
5.       Fundamentally the Indian Prime Minister must not only be just in his administration but also appear to be just to the public to convince them about his motives by visiting Germany to learn from the intellectual Chancellor of a highly developed country Mrs.Angela Merkel as to how she arrived at the conclusion after discussing with experts that nuclear safety is a myth and why she has decided to close down all the nuclear plants in Germany in a phased manner in public interest.
6.       Similarly if the Prime Minister is to do justice to the people of India he should also visit New York and find out the reasons which prompted the public organizations to fight for the closure of  the Indiana Point nuclear reactor with the support of the Government agencies and he should implement similar procedures on the establishment and operation of nuclear plants in India.
7.       If the Prime Minister wants to know the true facts of nuclear safety he should discuss with the US authorities as to why the Shoreham nuclear reactors were abandoned even after the plant was completed.
8.       The Prime Minister must discuss with the American nuclear plant suppliers as to why if they are convinced about the absolute safety of their nuclear plants they are helpless to convince the American Insurance companies about the safety of the nuclear plants and purchase insurance policies from them to cover the costs of a compensation to the victims of a maximum credible accident by an explosion like the one at Fukushima which is costing the nation Rs.4 lakh crores.  
9.       Similarly the Prime Minister must question his conscience as to why he is committing a sin by managing the Parliament  to pass the Civil Liability bill for nuclear accidents and  to pass on the economic costs of a nuclear accident costing more than Rs.4 lakh crores which will be collected as a penalty from the poor Indian tax payers.  As per rules the consent of the people has not been obtained to promote the riskiest nuclear plants that do not produce even 3% of the national electrical power which can be alternatively obtained by increasing the share of thermal energy from the inexpensive fossil fuels.  
10.   The Prime Minister should not pretend to be blind to the facts  that out of the total electricity production in India 64% is from fossil fuels, 23% from hydro-power, 10% from renewable sources and only  3% from nuclear power. Instead of accusing the opponents of nuclear power as obstructionists in producing more power in public interest he should realize that if he increases thermal energy from fossil fuels from 64 to 68%  all the existing nuclear plants can be closed down in India for protecting public health and natural resources.  This is the simple solution and it will not cause  more expenditure and it will be more safer and highly acceptable to the people.  In a democracy the peoples consent for major project is a must.
11.   The Prime Minister should not be blind to nuclear safety problems which comprise
a)      firstly the safety pertaining to the industrial siting on the basis of its environmental carrying capacity including the seismic potential tsunami flood wave problems , population intensity and  the infrastructure like roads and other facilities available for emergency evacuation.
b)      Secondly the design safety of the reactor based upon its structural stability, strength of materials and defence in depth for enhancing multiple safety measures.
c)       thirdly the work culture of the operational and management staff
d)      fourthly the feasibility of successful drills for the emergency evacuation response systems to be implemented consequent to a reactor explosion and
e)      fifthly to provide adequate security to the plant against unanticipated disasters due to terrorist attacks, bombing, internal sabotage and external terrorist attacks, meteorite hits and other unanticipated causes.

12.   Without preparing the environmental impact assessment report for the Kudankulam reactor plant and without making risk analysis, reactor explosion scenarios and disaster management and emergency response systems action plans and the relevant execution of mock drills for disaster management for Kudankulam no expert committee worth its name can dare to certify on the safety of Kudankulam reactors. 
13.   Since the clumsy reports prepared by non-expert members of the Government appointed expert committees are going to promote not only small and medium accidents but also maximum credible accident in the form of a reactor explosion like the one promoted by the nuclear plant designers and operators at Three Mile Island reactor in USA (1979), the Chernobyl (1986) and the Fukushima rectors accidents in Japan (2011) the right to life, the right to public health and the right to livelihood of millions of people in southern districts of Tamilnadu will be in jeopardy.
14.   Hence the people all over the country who will have to pay the penalty of Rs.4 lakh crores of rupees due to a nuclear accident also must open their eyes and debate about the advantages and disadvantages of Kudankulam nuclear plant and advise the state and central Governments to immediately stop this project since it is not feasible to implement the safety measures for protecting public health as in the case of the ongoing public agitation against the operations of the Indiana point nuclear plant near New York in USA.
15.   The Prime Minister should not play a double game.  He cannot run with the hare to promote their welfare while simultaneously planning to hunt with the hounds whose sole objective is to kill all the hares.  Similarly the Prime Minister cannot guarantee nuclear safety in the interests of protection  of public health and ecosystem while simultaneously sailing with the industrialists to promote nuclear plants which are inherently the silent killers of man and nature.
It is for the honest educated patriots in all states of India to debate on these issues of life and death as envisaged by Mrs.Indira Gandhi under 51 A(g)   of the constitution of India
This provision dictates that it is their fundamental duty to protect the environment including the air and water resources, forests and wild life and to develop compassion for all living creatures.  Intellectuals must also consider the United Nations slogan of “development without destruction and the Gandhian ideology which pleads that people must not only live a happy and vigorous life that must also provide equal opportunities for others also to live a simple life with high thinking. 

About Me

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Born in 1932 at Mudinepalli, near Gudivada, Krishna Dist. Andhra Pradesh, received Bachelors degree in Civil Engg., from Viswesaraiah Engineering College, Banglore (1956) and Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering from Rice university, Houston, Texas, (USA) (1962), Ph.D (Hony). Former Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and principal of College of Engineering, Andhra university.Formerly Hony.Professor in Andhra University,Manonmanian Sundarnar University,JNT University. Fellow of the Institution of Engineers,India Recipient of the University Grants Commissions National Award "Swami Pranavananda Award on Ecology and Environmental Sciences" for the year 1991. Recipient of Sivananda Eminent Citizen Award for 2002 by Sanathana Dharma Charitable Trust, Andhra Pradesh state. Presently Working as Director, centre for Environmental Studies, GITAM University,