'Don't dismiss citizens’ nuclear concerns as irresponsible'
One should not dismiss concerns of citizens on nuclear energy as foolish and irresponsible, said P Balaram, director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore on Monday.mumbai Updated: Jun 14, 2011 01:22 IST
One should not dismiss concerns of citizens on nuclear energy as foolish and irresponsible, said P Balaram, director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore on Monday.
"Nuclear secrecy has been a matter of concern for the past 50 years. But now one is able to clearly distinguish between civilian and strategic applications," said Balaram. "Therefore far greater openness on issues of nuclear power will help all to move forward."
Balaram was speaking at the Nehru Centre in Worli on Monday on safety aspects of India's nuclear plants. His comment came in light of the country's top scientist CNR Rao criticising him and calling him "irresponsible" because Balaram was a signatory to a statement sent to the prime minister's office that called for a nuclear moratorium soon after the nuclear emergency at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Stating that the public is concerned about safety in nuclear plant post Fukushima, Balaram said, "When atomic energy experts are from within the establishment, there are conflicting reports be it on nuclear explosions or nuclear safety. So, lay persons will have mounting concerns that are legitimate and hence shouldn't be grounded or seen as being alarmist who want to retard the country's development."
Former atomic energy commission chairperson Anil Kakodkar said with limited fossil fuel availability, a mix of nuclear energy and solar energy is essential to meet the country's future energy demands.
While Balaram supported the need for an independent atomic watchdog, he also spelt out his skepticism on the passage of such a legislation. "While there was a legislative initiative to pass the Indo-US deal or the Nuclear Liability Bill, very little initiative has been shown by our legislators to get the new regulatory process," said Balaram. "There is a long process between the idea of a legislation and passing it. The Lokpal Bill is an example because we don't know when it will come in place."