India is reeling under a severe power crisis. Companies are losing valuable production time from too many “power holidays," citizens are losing patience and productivity from power cuts and most of rural India still lives in the dark. Nuclear power plants such as the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu are essential to address the needs of India’s massive population. To sustain long term growth, support industry and allow citizens to maximize their potential, electricity is essential.

The Kudankulam project was conceived in 1988, two years after the Chernobyl disaster and at a time when Russia was India’s best friend and partner in all things related to infrastructure. In a way the Russians took over where the British left off in building India’s much-needed support structures. And just as the Kudankulam plant is finally set to start lighting up Tamil Nadu and providing millions of homes and businesses with electricity, a small minority of residents in the area have been trying hard to stymie this vital project.

The recent Fukushima meltdown in Japan has demonstrated the hazards associated with nuclear plants and residents in and around Kudankulam are nervous about the potential of a disaster in their region. Some countries have decided to throw in the towel and give up on nuclear energy post Fukushima. Japan, France and Germany are three such countries that have stated that they are going to rely less on nuclear power. These countries are small, technologically advanced and don’t face the gargantuan deficits in power that India faces. India hasn’t even begun providing its citizens with basics. More power plants are needed and urgently to maximize India’s potential.

Nuclear plants have been built since the 1950s and have gotten better and safer with time. The World Nuclear Association website states that there are 430 commercial nuclear power reactors in 31 countries that provide 13.5% of the world’s electricity. A McKinsey report from 2008, “Powering India: The Road to 2017" suggests that “if India continues to grow at an average rate of 8% for the next 10 years, the country’s demand for power is likely to soar from around 120 gw at present to 315-335 gw by 2017—100 gw higher than current estimates."

It’s unreasonable to expect a 100% safety guarantee on anything especially in the light of natural disasters that seem to be on the rise in frequency and intensity. Yet, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NCPL) has attested that “The (Kudakulam power plant) design includes provisions for withstanding external events like earthquake, tsunami/storm, tidal waves, cyclones, shock waves, aircraft impact on main buildings and fire."

In matters of progress, India cannot be held hostage by a few people.

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