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Why eye 3.5 GW N-power by 2030 without diligently prepared national energy policy?

By Shankar Sharma* 

There is yet another development of serious concerns in our country's energy sector, as news link NTPC eyes 3.5 GW N-power by 2030, in talks for SMRs suggests.
It is impossible to notice any rationale, or due diligence, or coherence in the approach/ policy/ practice of various segments/ agencies in achieving a common welfare objective in the context of various provisions of our Constitution and various specific laws of the Parliament.
It would be a great service to our nation if our authorities can demonstrate how the planning/ implementation of the construction of scores of conventional technology power generating plants (nuclear, coal, gas, hydel plants, and even the large size solar/ wind power parks etc.) and the associated infrastructure are in the best overall interest of our people; why they are essential; how they are demonstrably better than suitable alternatives; whether a diligent analysis of overall costs and benefits to the society will be in unambiguous support for them etc?
It will also be a serious let down of the trust of our people to continue to ignore such a Constitutional requirement.
One example of the dichotomy of policies/ priorities in nuclear power sector is as follows:
Whereas the unacceptable and avoidable costs/ risks of nuclear power plants to our impoverished people is well researched/ documented because of the unpleasant experiences from all over the world since 1950s; and whereas the economy of large size nuclear reactors in one location (such as 6*1,650 MWe units proposed for Jaitapur in Maharastra) has been argued as a necessity since decades; our authorities are now keen to embrace a new technological argument on SWRs even without waiting for even a single project to be realised any where in the world.
Are there any official documents indicating how SWRs are essential/ better for our people?
Without a diligently prepared national energy policy which considers the projection of demand/ supply scenario for the next 30- 40 years, all such knee jerk reactions (such as embracing the small modular reactor (SMR) technology or pumped storage power plants etc.) can only lead to multiple and humongous costs to our people in addition to multiple threats.
It is also disappointing to note that national level agencies such as National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) or Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) have not demonstrated any due diligence in considering such risks/ costs to our people at the national level, despite many representations. The ever escalating threats due to Climate Change, such as severe water scarcity and heat wave conditions, will only worsen the overall hardships to our people.
But none of our political parties/ intellectuals seem to be interested to consider such credible threats to our people. So the hardship for our communities can only continue and escalate.
*Power and climate policy analyst



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