Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"We need to formulate a nuclear programme"

Eminent scientist, Dr Bikash Sinha of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, now Director, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre and Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, in an interview with Subhrangshu Gupta in Calcutta - excerpts:

Of late you have been championing the case for setting up large scale nuclear power plants in the country, particularly, in the backward areas. But why? Is it really necessary? Don't we have plenty of thermal and hydel power plants?

Yes, it is really necessary. We have power from conventional resources. But they are insufficient and in future, the shortage will be enormous.

Then, we can go for more thermal and hydel plants to meet our needs. Why nuclear power?

No, we can't go for thermal and hydel plants for an indefinite period. This is not possible. For thermal and hydel power generations, we need uninterrupted and prolonged supply of coal and water. But is this possible? I believe the 200 billion tonnes of coal reserves in the country will run out long before the next century. Hydro-potential is renewable, and would continue to be available, though at a level much lower than the total need. What do we do then? Should we go without power?

Don't you think in a poor country like ours, setting up of nuclear power plants is too expensive a proposition?
No, this is not true. It is not too expensive. Apparently, the generation cost of nuclear power is slightly more expensive but if the transportation cost of coal from collieries to the plant is added, the total generation cost of both thermal and nuclear power would add up to the same amount .

What about the danger involved in nuclear power?

Danger? No, there is no danger. Rather, it is the safest and most environment friendly. There has been misconceptions about nuclear power as it is always associated with the atom bomb. But you know, atomic power has nothing to do with the atom bomb. You should note that the radiation leak from the uranium reprocessing plant in Japan was entirely man triggered, the result of private industry trying to cut corners. India's nuclear safety record is one of the best in the world and has been so, for a long time, right from the Apsara stage in 1956. Large scale development of nuclear power is inevitable. Here again, the country's uranium deposits are limited while its thorium deposits large. Hence, we need to formulate a three stage nuclear power programme.

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) has appealed for international support to resist Haripur Nuclear Power Project. Meanwhile it is said that Bengal is off nuclear plant list , but that is not officially confirmed as yet.

received from:
kavita panjabi