`Jaitapur N-plant needed for Maharashtra`s growth`

Atomic Energy Commission chief MR Srinivasan has said Maharashtra needs the new generation capacity to meet its industrial and agricultural demands.

Mumbai: Batting for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant, Atomic Energy Commission chief MR Srinivasan has said Maharashtra needs the new generation capacity to meet its industrial and agricultural demands and assured locals that effluents from the plant will not affect the ecology.

“Maharashtra needs new generation capacity to meet its increasing demands from industry, agriculture and domestic sectors," he said delivering the first Homi Sethna Memorial lecture on `Future of Nuclear Power after Fukushima` here last evening.

Assuring locals that effluents from the plant will not affect mango orchards or the fishing activity nearby, he said, "We have actual experience at Tarapur and Kalpakkam and at neither of these places has there been an adverse impact on
marine life.”

"Similarly Kakrapar and Kaiga, both in the Western Ghats have shown that the ecology of the area is unaffected. The question of compensation for lands that are acquired is a matter that has to be decided by state government," he said.

"But replacement of Land Acquisition Act of the British period is important, with a more balanced one that takes note of present conditions, if the Centre is serious about India`s huge infrastructure projects which requires a lot of power," he said.

"Lots of land has been acquired by the government from poor people at very low compensation and to make matters worse the money is not paid promptly. India`s record of resettling project affected people has been pathetic. In some coal mining projects, the same group of people have been uprooted more than once," he said.

In recent times, the value of land is escalating so fast that a fair compensation given a year or two ago appears thoroughly inadequate later. But all these matters can be resolved if our decision making elite put their heads together. We run the risk of being a self cancelling society where we cannot take a decision that will break the stalemate, Srinivasan said.

Srinivasan said non-pursuance of nuclear energy option by India would only increase fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions and continuing dependence on hydro-carbon imports in a market of dwindling supply and rising prices.

"All lessons must be learnt from Fukushima accident and we must move on to make nuclear energy as safe as possible and to give up the nuclear power option now will make the task of growing our economy to be able to overcome poverty and under development, even more difficult," Srinivasan said.

“While we may fully support wind and solar options, they simply will be inadequate or uneconomic compared to nuclear power," he said.

"It is sad that sometimes our environmental activists consider all of us involved in industrial activities as `anti-national people` and confer on themselves all patriotism. As a person who has spent some five and a half decades in developing nuclear power under difficult conditions I consider this value judgement of our environmental activists completely unacceptable," Srinivasan said.

Earlier we used to celebrate when a cement or a fertiliser or a power plant is completed but we are now seeing a sense of `triumphalism` amongst our activists, whenever a project is stopped or abandoned, he said.

"But if we have to cut down carbon emissions, to mitigate global warming, we must begin to build a significant nuclear capacity, which can generate economic base load electricity.”

Some studies of energy needs of India by 2052 show that the electricity requirement may be about 1300 GW. This could be made up of 40 percent coal based, using clean coal technologies, 40 percent nuclear and 20 renewable.


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