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Nuclear power vs. people power
- Categorized in: NUCLEAR POWER
As India grows, so does it's desire for nuclear energy and weapons. The struggle there, of people power vs nuclear power has been inspiring and sad at the same time. The real struggle may be nuclear power against people and the earth. Not against their power but an assault on their vulnerabilities. India has no more learned the lesson that bigger is not always better, more powerful not always safer, than the rest of the world. Its people have, in part, shown more willingness to go the distance in preventing expansion in Koodankulam of this toxic energy source. But, the sheer number of people in India highlight the same problems with consensus seen in the US and elsewhere.
Can we end our willful reliance on toxic energy sources before they end us? We can, but will we? That is another question. Protesters in the west could learn something from the courage of the resistors in India. Their willingness to show up in the face of some of the worst protections against retaliation has been humbling. Much like protestors in Japan, they cannot win this battle alone but it can be won. If the will of the world's people to protect the future of the planet exceeds the greed of corporations, a united "people" can win. If people are not willing to work together toward this end it may not happen. It is up to us to choose what is most important. To, paraphrasing Daniel Berrigan, "know where we stand, and stand there." It is time to draw the line in the sand.
- India's ambitions include a tenfold increase in nuclear power so it supplies 25 percent of the nation's energy needs by 2050. Two 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors at Koodankulam are expected to go online very soon -- the first commissioned reactors since Fukushima.
- The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy has successfully mobilized tens of thousands of Indian citizens to join nonviolent protests, while the Indian state has resorted to harassment and threats of violence.
- The nuclear establishment is the darling of Indian statehood, with far more people employed by the nuclear industry than the renewable energy sector. Citizen calls for increased transparency, accountability, and proper adherence to procedure have been met with repeated denials, deferrals, and deceit.
India has come into its own, a once-sleeping tiger waking with a seismic roar. In the last two decades, India has emerged as a robust modern military force, a formidable science and technology hub, and a soaring economic success despite the global recession. These developments, however, are accompanied by more and more demand for, and reliance on, nuclear power -- and lots of it.
In fact, India's ambitions PDF include a tenfold increase in nuclear power so it supplies 25 percent of the nation's energy needs by 2050. Two reactors at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu -- built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. in collaboration with the Russian Atomsroyexport -- are expected to go online in coming months. The 1,000-megawatt reactors are the first to be commissioned after the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011. Disconcertingly, India's new coastal reactors are situated in an environment similar to that of Fukushima -- a tsunami and earthquake zone, with the addition of karst formations, geothermal irregularities, and a lack of emergency water supplies.
India's strides in the nuclear sector have not come without resistance. The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) -- formed in 2003 and now led by the scholar S.P. Udayakumar and two Jesuit priests -- has successfully mobilized tens of thousands of Indian citizens. And as more and more people realize the dangers a nuclear reactor could bring to the south Indian peninsula, the PMANE cause grows. Activists have stuck diligently to nonviolent protests -- inspired by Mohandas Gandhi -- and managed to stall construction of the Koodankulam plant for six months; the Indian state, on the other hand, has resorted to harassment and threats of violence.