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Green lesson for diplomacy

india Updated: May 23, 2010 23:41 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi
Bharti Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times

India's local environmental scares contain a valuable lesson in global diplomacy.

Think of Deepak Jain — the scrap dealer who spent over six weeks in hospital fighting for his life because Delhi University sold him radioactive scrap. He says he is considering suing Delhi University.

Logical, right? But extrapolated into the international arena, the idea seems invalid.

Strange, but that's what I gathered from the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, under serious discussion with the American government. In a nutshell, the Bill caps liability from nuclear damage at Rs 500 crore. This includes loss of lives, health, livelihood and environmental damage.

Add another irony to this — Obama is presently fighting to remove any liability cap on BP, after the Deepwater catastrophe.

If there is one policy lesson from the Mayapuri story, it is that capping nuclear liability will result in grave injustice to our own citizens, because they could be so many of them and the damage is long-term and largely unpredictable.

Homespun energy
All over India, many of us have spent several hours without electricity.

This is ironic because according to a new report by the prestigious World Watch Institute in Washington DC, "India installed 2,459 megawatts of new capacity last year and consolidated its position as the fifth largest wind energy producer in the world."

Although distribution figures are hard to locate, not being adequately connected to the grid may be an obstacle. It might be more viable to start farming alternative energy for local use. Imagine Goa powering itself from coastal wind energy. Why can't our cities ride the country's proven knowhow and reduce the energy deficit?