THE RISE OF ENVIRONMENT unFRIENDLY PROJECTS PART I
We all know the issues human race face everyday due to consumption of non-renewable resources for energy production for our day to day living. Yes, now India has been focusing more on usage of renewable sources for energy, which can help save or reduce the consumption of fuel sources that are very difficult to be renewed. On the better note India was the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources.
India ranks 3rd in ‘Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index’ and will be the world’s 4th largest consumer of renewable energy sources by 2030. All this is well, for the betterment of the country and its future.
Lets keep this aside and look some other sources of energy and the projects that were initiated by the Government of India and their impacts over the environment, people and also its merits and demerits.
Nuclear power is the fourth-largest source of electricity in India after thermal, hydroelectric and renewable sources of electricity. As of 2016, India has 21 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear power plants, while 6 more reactors are under construction.
The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant:
One of the most notable projects of all is the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in TamilNadu. The Russian-built Kudankulam plant is the country’s largest nuclear power project and is designed to help meet a surging demand for electricity. Plans were first drawn up in 1988 and it was supposed to have gone into operation in 2011.
Benefits of the project:
- It can supply electricity to at least 200 million homes
- Capable of generating 1000 MW of power when operational
- Has in-built safety measures that
minimize the risk of any radiation leak
- The location of the plant is in an area that is least prone to earthquakes, and its height ensures potential safety from tsunamis
- Storage and disposal of nuclear waste major cause of concern
Now let’s see the issues that this project causes to the environment and the people around the plant.
Effects of the project:
- The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) reactors have been set up without sharing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study and Safety Analysis Report with the people, or the people’s representatives or the press. No public hearing has been conducted for the first two reactors either. There is absolutely no democratic decision-making in or public approval for this project.
- More than 1 million people live within the 30 km radius of the KKNPP which far exceeds the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) stipulations. It is quite impossible to evacuate this many people quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster at the plant.
- The coolant water and low-grade waste from the KKNPP are going to be dumped in to the sea which will have a severe impact on fish production and catch. This will undermine the fishing industry, push the fisher-folks into deeper poverty and misery and affect the food security of the entire southern Tamil Nadu and southern Kerala.
- Even when the KKNPP projects function normally without any incidents and accidents, they would be emitting Iodine 131, 132, 133, Cesium 134, 136, 137 isotopes, strontium, tritium, tellurium and other such radioactive particles into our air, land, crops, cattle, sea, seafood and ground water. Already the southern coastal belt is sinking with very high incidence of cancer, mental retardation, down syndrome, defective births due to private and government sea-sand mining for rare minerals including thorium. The KKNPP will add many more woes to already suffering people.
- The quality of construction and the pipe work and the overall integrity of the KKNPP structures have been called into question by the very workers and contractors who work there in Kudankulam. There have been international concerns about the design, structure and workings of the untested Russian-made VVER-1000 reactors.
What about other super powers?
- The March 11, 2011 disaster in Fukushima Daichii, Japan has made it all too clear to the whole world that nuclear power plants are prone to natural disasters and no one can really predict their occurrence. When we cannot effectively deal with a nuclear disaster, it is only prudent to prevent it from occurring.
- Even the most industrialized and highly advanced country such as Germany has decided to phase out their nuclear power plants by the year 2022.
- Switzerland has decided to shun nuclear power technology. In a recent referendum, some 90 percent of Italians have voted against nuclear power in their country.
- Many Japanese prefectures and their governors are closing nuclear power plants in their regions.
- Both the United States and Russia have not built a new reactor in their countries for 2-3 decades ever since major accidents occurred at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
In our own country, Mamta Banerjee government in West Bengal has stopped the Russian nuclear power park project at Haripur in Purba Medhinipur district and taken a position that they do want any nuclear power project in their state. Similarly, the people of Kerala have decided not to host any nuclear power project in their state.
The following link would make it clear that despite the failure of the Plant’s Phase I and II of the KKNPP, Phase III and IV were continued against the massive protest by the people. This protest is worth notice as it is one of the largest protests against nuclear power plants in the country.