After signing a deal for 12 new nuclear power plants in India by 2035, Russian President Vladimir Putin and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t provide much detail on where the proposed plants will be.
As a former Congress Minister Mani Shankar Aiyyar posted on NDTV.com, Kudankulam had demonstrated that finding locations for nuclear plants “was always going to be problematic and will increasingly be so.”
Already, a nuclear power plant project in Jaitapur in the western province of Maharashtra and another in the State of West Bengal have run into local problems because of protests by residents who do not want the plants in their backyards. There are apprehensions, which almost everyone connected with the issue feel are justified in the wake of nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl in Russia and of late, the one at Fukushima in Japan, that the plants pose a major threat to life and the ecology if something goes wrong in their operations.
Power sector analysts in India claim that the only country as of now that seems convinced of the potential of nuclear power for civilian use, especially in power generation, was India. They extend the example of Germany, a highly industrialized country, which had decided in the wake of Fukushima that it would phase out all existing nuclear power plants and build no new ones.
But such examples seem to be no deterrent to India, which has made its newfound love of nuclear energy public at all available forums. R.K. Sinha, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, for example, recently told a meeting that India was committed to its nuclear program “without any interruption,” irrespective of decisions taken by other countries.
He was obviously referring to Germany and Japan, which planned to end their dependence on nuclear energy, saying India had no reason to follow them.
Sinha said India had been pursuing the nuclear program on its own steam, and the country was in the process of establishing new nuclear power plants across India, without being dependent on any foreign country. There was no question of following them and halting our nuclear program, he told The Hindu newspaper. It’s also true that countries such as France derive 75% of their energy from nuclear power and have been able to achieve the type of energy security that the world’s largest democracy desires by doing so.
Convincing citizens of the safety of the use of such alternate sources of power, and making land available for such projects are thus the 2 main hurdles the Indian Government will have to cross if it wants to get anywhere near its stipulated goal. A look back in time, though, will show that on an average, any project in India takes about 5 years to implement, so for now at least, the 2035 dream seems just that.
The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.