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No rational policy on N-power technology in India to address civil society concerns

By Shankar Sharma* 

For those of us, who have a decent appreciation of the enormous cost of nuclear power technology to a country like India, the statement by Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State, Science & Technology, on nuclear disaster insurance coverage – that for nuclear incidents, there is adequate and sufficient insurance coverage in the country – may appear like an understatement.
Whereas, the societal level costs of the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl (1985) and Fukushima (2011) are reported to be still being compiled, such costs in the case of India associated with any unfortunate nuclear disaster in our nuclear fuel sites can be many times more, when we objectively consider the huge population base and the already constrained natural resources here. In such a scenario it can be said to be irrational to assume that the insurance coverage in the country for such a disaster is "adequate and sufficient".
In view of the media reports of the financial costs alone associated with nuclear disasters at Chernobyl (1985) and Fukushima (2011) running to several hundred Billion Dollars and piling up in each case, can we convincingly state that the various societal level costs associated with these disatsters have been fully recovered from any such insurance coverage in those countries?
In view of the fact that there is no rational policy on nuclear power technology for our country, which can satisfactorily address all the credible concerns of civil society, there seems to be a critical need for us to persuade our authorities to diligently deliberate on all the associated issues, and come up with a statement as to why nuclear power technology is essential/ critical for our country, and what are its relative costs and benefits as compared to other sources of electricity in the country.
We can only hope and pray that there will be no minor/major nuclear mishaps in the country.
---
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst

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