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Mainstream, VOL LI No 21, May 11, 2013

Supreme Court Judgment on Kudankulam Plant Needs Full-bench Review

Saturday 11 May 2013, by Sailendra Nath Ghosh

COMMENTARY

Observer

The judgment delivered on May 6 (2013) by a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court is shocking and anti-people. Unless the full-Bench of the Supreme Court hastens to correct it, it will lower the prestige of our Supreme Court in the eyes of the world.

The following questions need to be addressed: Who, for what purpose, filed the PIL on the Kudankulam nuclear plant before the Supreme Court? Is the Supreme Court endowed with superior know-ledge about nuclear plants?

Why did the SC admit this suit? Did it, too, think that deciding about the safety of a nuclear plant is within its ambit?

All independent assessors of nuclear reactors have always said that every reactor carries with it the portent of a catastrophe: if any part of its complex equipments starts malfunctioning, it can cause a major disaster. Since nobody can be sure that a perfect-looking equipment, during operation, will not develop snags, no sensible person, howsoever experienced in handling nuclear equipments, will ever agree to certify a nuclear plant as safe. That is the distinctive feature of nuclear plants.

In this case, our two-judge Bench, by recording its own conviction that the Kudankulam plant is safe, only revealed its total lack of under-standing of the nuclear plants’ absolute unpre-dictability. Thus, it made itself laughable before the world.

Would the Apex Court of any other established democracy agree to give orders to the people (who are considered as sovereign) to stop voicing their grievances and apprehensions of dangers? Why did not our Apex Court want to hear the agencies/institutions who firmly believe that India’s energy needs can be fully met by renewable forms of energy sooner and at lower cost—and thus render the hazardous nuclear power plants totally unnecessary?

Is the Supreme Court aware that before March 11, 2011, the Fukushima nuclear plants were being advertised as safe? After the disaster, the Government of Japan has decided to gradually wind up all its existing nuclear power plants and abandon the nuclear power generation programme altogether?

Countries like Germany, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, despite having less sunlight than India, have been forging ahead to meet all their energy needs by renewable forms of energy and have decided never to resort to nuclear power generation. Why cannot India, a country with far more sunlight, adopt a policy of achieving energy sufficiency by renewable forms of energy by 2030? Why cannot the huge investments for nuclear power plants be diverted to renewables for people’s happiness and benefits of decentralised developments?

The author is one of the country’s earliest environ-mentalists and a social philosopher. He can be contacted at sailendranathghosh@yahoo.com and sailendernathg@gmail.com

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