INDIA AT A LOSS IN HOW BEST TO HANDLE PEOPLE’S REJECTION OF NUCLEAR PLANTS
19 MAR 2012
ON 17 MAR 2012, AT IDINTHAKARAI, INDIA, area fishermen, and farmers sat on mats in front of St. Lourdes Catholic Church. They had a few terse demands: Halt work on the nearby Kudankulam nuclear power plant, and answer our questions. Their Anti-nuclear concern now permeates India since Japan’s Fukushima Dai No.1 NPP triple meltdown tragedy on 12 Mar 2011 stirred-up NPP safety, and nuclear-waste worries worldwide. The obviously peed-off response by Indian Central government’s response to villagers in this hot, dusty southern fishing hamlet, and at other proposed plant sites in India, took a turn for the worst, when talks failed for want of specific answers to expressed public concerns. The Central government is now reacting like a deer in the headlights; They have even made “welfare reforms” promises which citizens say never happen, and are still acting in a paranoid fashion that many citizens compare to “moronic”. Yeah! – They are moronic (unintelligent), like a fox!
INDIA’S CENTRAL GOVERNMENT LASHING-OUT AGAINST ANTI-NUCLEAR ORGANIZATIONS AND PERSONS. Late in Feb 2012, Indian Prime Minister Mamohan Singh accused the USA, and Scandinavian Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)of funding the protests to hold back India’s development. That accusation was an apparent cue for the Indian security establishment, which then arrested, and deported a German visitor traveling in the area on a tourist visa, accusing him of funding the Kudankulam NPP “energy park” protests. Government officials are investigating the finances of Catholic church, and some Civil Societies, alleging that the groups were illegally diverting funds intended for orphans and anti-leposy programs. The operating licenses of three (3) such grups were canceled, bank accounts were frozen, and the visa was revoked for a Fukushima-area resident invited to India by Greenpeace to speak about Japan’s nuclear disaster (That’s known as a gag-order). In the latest move last week, a ruling party lawmaker demanded full surveillance and monitoring of all foreign money going to about 65,500 Indian NPOs (about $6.5 billion between 2007 and 2010) in what some critics are calling a “witch hunt.” NOTE: “Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)” in the USA, are also called “Civil Societies” in other places – they are really the same legally.
PUT-UP, OR SHUT-UP, SAID THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. The latest Indian Central Government broadside against the many NPOs has drawn indignation and protests from anti-nuclear activists. The Catholic Church, expressed indignation, and called on the government to provide evidence that funds were being illegally diverted, or unfreeze its bank accounts.
THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) LIKEWISE denied that any of its 27 member states were fanning anti-nuclear protests as part of a hidden agenda to “weaken” India. Joao Cravinho, Head of the European Union Delegation to India responded: “In a Democracy (such as India), dissent is normal…It strengthens Democracies.”
STRONG ANTI-NUCLEAR POPULAR SENTIMENT points to the growing frustration with a government rampant with corruption scandals, a weakening economy, high inflation, and that is now affecting the free elections of political representatives in state elections; specially since three(3) governors have already said words to the effect that: You want to do what ? – Not in my backyard(NIMBY). The Central government espouses the need for nuclear power, at a time others are countries are cancelling NPPs; supposedly because its fast-growing economy has a growing demand for energy (what’s new ?). They view NPPs, as an important component in India’s power mix. It is seldom mentioned that India’s ruling party used a great deal of political capital(and funding) since 2005 to sign Nuclear agreements with USA Civil Nuclear industry, and Russia, as well as France (EDF); Having done so much bureaucratic work (yeah!- we know, selling licenses they now can’t keep); so, naturally they resent citizens trying to block their well laid plans. PROBLEM IS: NOBODY EXPECTED THE FUKUSHIMA TRIPLE MELTDOWN! BUT IT HAPPENED ON 12 MAR 2011, AND THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING WORLDWIDE; THAT, THEY CANNOT ACCEPT!
CIVIL SOCIETIES, NPOs, AND CONCERNED CITIZENS, include one critic who accused the government of “moron management”. Hermann Rainer Sonntag, the German who was deported, said by email, that he had provided no funding or direction to India’s anti-nuclear movement and, that as a retiree living on limited income, he can barely fund himself, and has spent long stretches in India because his money goes further. He did say he opposes nuclear energy. The Indian Central Government has yet to charge Sonntag with alleged violations, but other activists say the deportation is typical of New Delhi’s capricious and arbitrary (perhaps illegal) attitude, pointing out that if Sonntag had really broken the law, he probably would have been jailed, not exiled out of the country.
RUSSIAN PLAN TO COLONIZE INDIA Began with a plan to build six Russian NPPs in Kudankulam in the late 1980s; However, the Soviet Union’s collapse stalled the start of construction until 1997. The Russian plan went awry after the Fukushima Triple Melt-down forced a worldwide re-assessment of Uranium -fueled NPPs: Now, protests have delayed commissioning of the first reactor, which is 99% complete, and a second reactor that is 94% done. The initiation postponements have added $500 million to the now-$3.3-billion project, which is partly financed by aid from Russia.
BUT WHY IS RUSSIA’S STATE-OWNED “ROSATOM” so helpful? Money, lots of it! for the life of the NPPs. Under the original deal, the Russian government is to supply(sell India exclusively) uranium for the life of the plant, with India allowed to keep and reprocess the spent fuel. Problem is nobody, but nobody, wants “spent nuclear fuel“, such a provision is not generally allowed in U.S. agreements. India apparently has undisclosed intentions to reprocess “spent fuel” for plutonium which can be made into nuclear weapons. Who in the world need them!! greedy, paranoid morons, that’s who!
INDIA TOO, HAS NEED FOR MORE AND MORE ENERGY India hopes to double its nuclear power from 2% (now)to 4% of its primary energy requirements by 2017. It now experiences a 12% energy shortfall at peak times, resulting in frequent and extended blackouts; That’s a huge economic drag, on a nation trying to lift millions out of poverty. Even so, anti-nuclear activists argue that alternative energy could fill the gap. Kudankulam NPP area residents are peeved because their village, is subjected to more blackouts than other areas, in what they feel is a form of coercion . The standoff at Kudankulam has taken on added importance because another planned six(6) nuke “Energy Park” is nearing completion up the coast at Jaitapur; and is also stalled by angry demonstrations.
VILLAGERS SAY: HELL- NO! Some villagers say they were initially supportive of the project, but became disenchanted when the government treated them like ignorant farmers who couldn’t possibly understand science, even as promised welfare projects such as, schools and roads never materialized. “So many false promises”, said Raj Leon – 57, a retired businessman, sitting near banners that read “Technology from Hell!” and “Most Unsafe!”. Lady Sunthari Pentan sat near the church in a black sari, and gold-colored necklace. The mother of two said: My biggest concern regarding the nuclear plant are possible birth defects, radiation in the food chain, and tainted fish killing fishermen’s livelihood… If rich, technologically advanced nations such as Japan, the U.S. and the Soviet Union have had reactor accidents, how can Indians believe the government’s safety claims, given its corruption and opaque oversight”. Worrying about the twin cooling towers four miles away, she added: “A motorcycle accident kills two(2), a bus accident kills 25…This could kill thousands”. THERE, IS ONE SHARP INDIAN WOMAN !
INDIA’S NUCLEAR PROPONENTS PROMISE “MUCH SAFER” NPPs. M.S. Srinivasan, “former head of India’s atomic regulatory body” believes that: “the nuclear industry has done a poor job communicating the benefits of nuclear power in general, and this reactor model’s safety record in particular ( In other words, he blames poor Public Relations), This contrasts with the anti-nuclear activist’s Post-Fukushima media campaign of late, involving dozens of press releases, videos, photographs and news conferences arguing their case…Kudankulam NPPs would be extremely safe, given that the facility has four emergency generators, each of which can cool the plant alone well above sea level, as well as a passive cooling systems, that protects it against tsunamis, earthquakes and power failures. At Fukushima, a cooling-system failure after a massive earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three(3) of its six NPPs; Kudankulam’s passive system will work even without power…I believe reports that the protests were fueled by money diverted from anti-leprosy and orphan charities”, Well ! Let’s remember he is a “former head of India’s atomic regulatory body” HIS REACTION IS TOTALLY PREDICTABLE, DO YOU AGREE? BUT… HE LIES ABOUT SAFETY FEATURES OF OLD DESIGN NPPs. Such Dudes cannot be trusted; Indian people know that.
RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO INDIA Alexander M. Kadakin, agrees with Srinivasan: “We have been suspecting it all along” – refering to the alleged “diversion of funds”. OF COURSE HE AGREES! ITS REALLY ABOUT THEIR MONEY ! Officials of the Kudankulam NPPs, behind a gate ringed by dozens of police officers and steel barriers, declined to comment.
INDIAN AUTHOR AND MAGAZINE EDITOR Mr. Vinod Mehta said: “government overreaction reflected the Prime Minister’s frustration over seeing a keystone policy blocked. Charities (NPOs) are appreciated in India in part, because they often provide the services that corrupt and inefficient officials fail to deliver…It’s really more that the prime minister is annoyed by the pushback against nuclear power” .
Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)
Thanks to the L.A. Times – 18 Mar 2012, for their excellent quotations.
Note: This post is a sequel to: http://energymaters.com/?p=739
All-caps are my comments -gonzedo
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