First Published: 19:18 IST(12/11/2011)
Last Updated: 19:20 IST(12/11/2011)
Apex court to hear plea against N-plants Monday
The Supreme Court will ON Monday hear a petition seeking to restrain
the central government from setting up any new nuclear plants till an
analysis of their safety and cost benefits is carried out.
An apex court bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia, Justice AK Patnaik
and Justice Swatanter Kumar would hear the petition by NGOs Common
Cause, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, 12 former bureaucrats,
including former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian and former Indian
Navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas.
The petitioners opposed the setting up of nuclear plants that India
planned to build in association with other countries in the wake of
India-US nuclear deal.
Under "the pressure of foreign countries and the multi-billion dollar
nuclear industry, the government has been pushing forward an
expensive, unviable and dangerous nuclear power programme without
proper safety assessment and without a thorough comparative
cost-benefit analysis vis-a-vis other sources of energy, especially
renewable sources", said the petition.
"The recent Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has turned out far
graver than originally feared. The reactors and overheated spent-fuel
pools have spewed radioactivity that has now spread over hundreds of
square kilometre. Tens of thousands of people have had to be evacuated
from a 30 km radius and beyond," the petition said.
The disaster would cost Japan hundreds of billions of dollars and make
a large area uninhabitable. The cost of repairs and finding new
sources of electricity were estimated to be more than a whopping $25
billion. The Fukushima disaster highlighted, 25 years after the
Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine April 26, 1986, the inherent
hazards of nuclear power generation, the petition said.
It referred to reports which said that the legacy of radiation at
Chernobyl would last centuries and claim hundreds of thousand more
victims than in Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki cities, where atom
bombs were dropped in 1945 to end World War II.
"Even a highly industrialised country with a good industrial safety
record like Japan could not anticipate and control these hazards.
After the Fukushima disaster Germany, Italy and Switzerland have
announced a complete withdrawal from further use of nuclear power.
Japan is also considering phasing out its nuclear plants," the
The petition said that not only does India have a poor industrial
safety track record but also a dismal post-disaster management system
as was evident from the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy and from numerous
railway accidents and earthquakes.
"If, for example, people from within 30 km radius of the nuclear plant
in Narora, Uttar Pradesh, (which is about 150 km from Delhi) have to
be evacuated, then that would mean rehabilitating tens of millions of
internal refugees, which in all likelihood would prove to be
impossible," it said.
In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the secretary of the
Department of Atomic Energy, who is also the chairman of the Atomic
Energy Commission, said that Indian nuclear plants were "one hundred
percent safe", the petition said.
"Such a statement without being based on facts or on assessment is
intended to mislead the people in this county. It also shows that the
Indian establishment has completely shut its eyes to the issue of
nuclear safety," the petition said.
"Most of the nuclear reactors and equipment for which import orders
are being made are of extremely dubious quality and safety standards,"
the petition said.
The petition pointed to the proposed "Jaitapur nuclear power plant
(considered to be the world's largest) as a case study to highlight
the mindless decision-making in recent times".
While seeking to declare the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act,
2010 as unconstitutional, the petitioners sought the setting up of an
independent expert body to conduct a thorough safety assessment of all
existing and proposed nuclear facilities and cost benefit analysis of
nuclear power vis-a-vis other sources of energy.