Chennai (AsiaNews) - Two days ago,
police in Tamil Nadu arrested about 200 people following clashes between security
forces and anti-nuclear protesters. Fr Suseelan, a priest from the village of Koottapuli,
and some members of his parish, were among those arrested. They had joined the more
than 5,000 people demonstrating against the construction of the Kudankulam
nuclear power station. Members of civil society, including former judges,
writers, scientists, academics, filmmakers and lawyers oppose the government's
decision to build the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).
People were arrested under Sections
121 ('Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the
Government of India'), 121A ('Conspiracy to [. . .] overawe, by means of
criminal force or the show of criminal force, the Central Government) and 153A
('Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place
of birth, residence, language') of the Indian Penal Code.
An agreement to build a Soviet-made
plant was signed in 1988, but began only in 1997. Since then, supply problems
and local opposition have delayed construction. And since last year's Fukushima
accident, residents near the site are even more concerned and have begun
protesting on a regular basis.
Fr S. Ignacimuthu sj, director of
the Entomology Research Institute at Loyola College in Chennai, is instead in favour
of the Kudankulam plant. "Nuclear power can play a larger role in maintaining
the energy security of India, reducing atmospheric pollution and gaining
economic benefits," he said.
In his view, people are influenced
more by certain accidents involving nuclear plants (like the one in Fukushima)
than by the advantages they can bring.
"Nuclear energy does not release
greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbon) during nuclear
reaction," he explained. It "does not create pollution and acid rain" and its "operating
costs are relatively low and stable". If built correctly, they are safe.
Of course, the "disposal of
nuclear waste is a major task" but it can be done. India can take advantage of
its geological stable formations.
Other "energy sources such as
coal, hydroelectric, gas, wind, solar, refuse-based, and biomass yield very
less amount of electricity and they have many disadvantages," including environmental
For these reasons, a nuclear
plant is crucial for sustainable development in India. People should be
educated about these new forms of energy.
Nuclear power is the
fourth-largest source of electricity in India, and meets 3 per cent of its needs.
At present, 20 reactors are in operation in six plants, generating 4.780 MW of
electricity. They are: Kaiga (Karnataka), 880 MW; Kakrapar (Gujarat), Kalpakkam
(Tamil Nadu), Narora (Uttar Pradesh), 440 MW each; Rawatbhata (Rajasthan) 1.180
MW; and Taraour (Maharashtra), 1.400 MW. (NC)