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India needs eco-friendly technology more than nuclear power plants
Nuclear lobby in the country is hiding facts from public and refusing any public scrutiny. Though nuclear power plants are named as civil energy units, the experts are wondering how nuclear lobby raise the bogey of `national security' whenever their claims are challenged or countered. In a seminar, held in Hyderabad, activists have highlighted the fact that India needs a policy to conserve available energy sources.

ACTIVISTS AND scientists together came to the conclusion that India’s urgent need is to formulate a realistic energy policy to optimum conservation of available energy sources and adoption of eco-friendly technologies rather than insisting on more and more nuclear and thermal power plants, ignoring genuine concerns of the local communities. This was arrived at the two-day workshop organised by Andhra Pradesh chapter of National Alliance of People’s Movements in Hyderabad on “Understanding Nuclear Energy”.

Renowned Gandhian and scientist Dr Surendra Gadekar and Supreme Court lawyer-turned air-force commander Dr Buddhi Kota Subba Rao, participated as principal resource persons and presented technological and legal issues related to various nuclear power points coming up in various parts of the country.

Both of them strongly disputed Government of India’s projection that the country needed 8 lakh Million Units of electricity supply by 2032, while the present available production capacity in the country is less than 2 lakh Million Units. Dr Gadekar pointed out that this figure was arrived keeping in view US citizens’ per capita consumption of 14,000 units as against India’s 800 units. “It is foolish to compare with US standard of living”, he felt. Already more than 1 lakh million units’ capacity power plants are under construction in various parts of the country.

Instead of going for more and more plants, they suggested it is advisable to concentrate on effective conservation of available power supply in the country.  According to them and other experts who participated in the workshop, most of the heavy industries in the country are using access electricity when compared to several developed countries. Our steel plants are using several times higher electricity when compared to Japan for same production.

Even as per the government projects, present share of nuclear energy is around 1 or 2 per cent of total production and it may not go beyond 3 to 5 per cent in next ten years. Instead of diverting huge national resources for nuclear power generation, they felt it would be better to concentrate on alternate energy solutions that are eco-friendly. “Now we have to focus on localisation of energy production by taking up small bio-mass, solar energy or wind energy plants locally with limited production targets to meet requirements of local population”, they added.

Dr Rao felt that India is spending millions of crores of rupees for uranium exploration though it is available at cheaper prices in the international markets. “As per international standards we do not have even 1 per cent of world uranium reserves”, he said. Recollecting his studies on nuclear plants designing by obtaining Ph.D from Mumbai IIT, he worried about longevity of our plants.

Dr Surendra felt that it would be impossible to expect clean energy from thermal plants. Even as per international standards, he said we cannot get more than 40 per cent energy from coal. Quality-wise, Indian coal consists of large volume of ash. “We can only try for cleaner thermal power production, but not cleanest one”, he added.

Both experts lamented that nuclear lobby in the country is hiding facts from the public and refusing any public scrutiny. Though Nuclear Power Plants are named as civil energy units, they wondered how Nuclear lobby raising the bogey of `national security’ whenever their claims are challenged or countered. They also pointed out their refusal to share actual facts and figures with regard to nuclear power plants’ status.

As Andhra Pradesh is already on the Nuclear Map with Nuclear Fuel Complex being present in Hyderabad since the 70s, Ms Kavula Saraswathi, Coordinator of the workshop and Joint Convenor of NAPM-AP, said that there is a need to create awareness among people on issues related to Nuclear Energy. 

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