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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kudankulam protests turn ugly - France has 58 nuclear plants


People in defending every move, tend to cite European and Western countries and reel our statistics [many without base] in trying to strengthen their view point – often without thinking whether the scenario is comparable.

Kudankulam agitation is becoming nasty and messier.  It has exhibited inherent contradictions of a “peaceful” “Gandhian” movement that the anti-Kudankulam agitation claims itself to be;  it clearly appears that some forces are trying to hold the State to ransom, trying to impede the operation of KKNPP (Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant) and have devised devious strategies in attempting to damage the grid.   Seemingly, there is  sudden change in the complexion of the agitation by PMANE (People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy), the struggle committee and the villagers.  They are trying to exhibit traits of intolerance, muscle power, emotional harangue gaining support from outside.   There is news that late  on Tuesday, at about the time that SP Udayakumar, the leader of the agitation against the nuclear power plant, was about to surrender to the police,  Arvind Kejriwal popped up dramatically in Kudankulam – and dissuaded Udayakumar from giving himself up.  Kejriwal and Anna Hazare movement are respected for their fight against corruption – but clearly, here, either their perception is wrong or they are misguided to believing certain things.  Movement against corruption has no place here and if they think that they need to support all agitations against the Govt – they are missing ‘the wood for the trees’.  May be Kejriwal is trying to leverage the group of people for his fight.  As a responsible citizen, he ought to  know that the endless delay of the project have given way to cost overruns, which amounts to a loss to the exchequer that is no less damaging than corruption.

Local fishermen have been made to believe that they have common concern on the scale of  a Fukushima.  Are these fears not exaggerated, highlighted by mindless scare-mongering of a misguided people by a movement that has compromised itself.  Months earlier, Firstpost noted that, what began as a secular movement intended to raise awareness about nuclear plant safety has been hijacked by the church. It is an open secret that church groups based in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, which receive crores of rupees in donations from overseas, have been active in backing the anti-nuclear protest. Anti-nuclear activists argue that we can do without nuclear power, and rely entirely on coal-based or renewable energy. It’s a woolly-headed argument that has been disproved from the experience of other economies. Today’s article in Firstpost narrates how some popular people  are feeding the reckless fear-mongering and lending themselves to regressive, knee-jerk anti-establishment causes.  They have unthinkingly joined the flock of vultures that are circling over Kudankulam. And in doing that, they risk losing the popular goodwill they had harvested in their campaign against corruption.  One should not tend to ignore the fact that the  crackdown on four non-governmental organisations on the charge that they diverted foreign funds intended for social development activities to the anti-nuclear protests in Kudankulam  focussed the spotlight on the activities of church-based NGOs in southern Tamil Nadu.

Read elsewhere that France has 58 nuclear power plants.  This is no direct counter but a fact that when we tend to quote reference to Western countries, all that factual existence also should count.  It is stated that Nuclear power is the primary source of electric power in France. France's nuclear power industry has been called "a success story" that has put the nation "ahead of the world" in terms of providing cheap, CO2-free energy.   Even after the  the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, France only saw the need for upgrading the protection of vital functions of  all its nuclear reactors and did not think of closure of facilities.  One report reads “Civaux in southwestern France is a stereotypical rural French village with a square, a church and a small school. On a typical day, Monsieur Rambault, the baker, is up before dawn turning out baguettes and croissants. Shortly after, teacher Rene Barc opens the small school. There is a blacksmith, a hairdresser, a post office, a general store and a couple of bars. But overlooking the picturesque hamlet are two giant cooling towers from a nuclear plant, still under construction, a half-mile away. When the Civaux nuclear power plant comes on line sometime in the next 12 months, France will have 56 working nuclear plants, generating 76% of her electricity.”

In France, unlike in America, nuclear energy is accepted, even popular. To them, the nuclear plants have brought jobs and prosperity to the area, besides of course the electricity. France's decision to launch a large nuclear program dates back to 1973 and the events in the Middle East that they refer to as the "oil shock."  It is stated that  the nuclear program has been popular and remarkably non controversial and one of the reasons cited is that scientists and engineers have a much higher status in France.  

Quite unfortunately, we are a bundle of contradictions where there are politicians who know little.  As a Nation, we tend to speak of some indignity to our beloved Abdul Kalam in a foreign Airport, but our own self-styled activists had the audacity to question his understanding and commitment to this nuclear facility at Kudankulam

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
12th Sept. 2012

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