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Andhra N-plant will "destroy" agriculture, livelihood of locals: Ex-bureaucrat writes to Indian, Japanese PM

By Our Representative
Former energy secretary, Government of India, EAS Sarma has strongly opposed the setting up of 6,000 MWe nuclear plant near the village where he currently lives, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, saying he is “intensely concerned” about the safety of the people there in the event of an “unfortunate accident” taking place, similar to the one that struck the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear complex in March 2011.
Pointing out that he was sure “those residing in Gujarat and in the other states in India, where Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) proposes to set up new nuclear power plants, feel the same way”, Sarma has opposed, through a letter he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the setting up a nuclear power plant comprising of reactors and components supplied by the US and Japanese companies.
“The proposed nuclear plant will displace thousands of farmers and fisherfolk, destroy precious agriculture, deprive the local communities of their livelihoods and, in short, disrupt their lives in multifarious ways. The only agencies that benefit from such a project are the manufacturers of nuclear reactors and their components in the US and in Japan and the nuclear establishment whose survival depends on the survival of nuclear power”, the ex-bureaucrat underlines.
Sarma alleges, the decision to go ahead with the nuclear plants has been taken “after protracted negotiations, involving several contentious issues, often pressured by the western nuclear manufacturing lobbies and the nuclear establishment within Japan.” India and Japan are likely to clinch a nuclear supply agreement during Abe’s visit to India about a week’s time.
“While the protagonists of nuclear technology persistently try to justify proliferation of nuclear power on the ground that the probability of occurrence of a Fukushima-like accident in a nuclear power plant is low, none of them can ever deny that such accidents can take place one time or the other, either as a result of a natural disaster on which we have no control or as a result of a human failure that we cannot wish away”, Sarma says.
Giving the examples of Three Mile Island accident (1979), the Chernobyl accident (1986) and the more recent Fukushima accident (2011) as grim reminders of this, Sarma says, there have so far been “99 potential, well-documented disasters that took place in the five decades that preceded Fukushima.”
He adds, “Japan is still struggling to clean up Fukushima even four years after the accident. I wonder whether it will ever be able to decommission it fully and declare the area to be 100 per cent safe!”
“In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension. It is ironic that Japan should become a major actor in pushing nuclear power like never before, especially at a time when the people of Japan are yet to come to grips fully with the aftermath of Fukushima”, Sarma says.
He adds, “Apart from the safety concerns, the global experience during the last decade has shown that nuclear power is highly expensive and unaffordable in a country like India.”

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