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Sheer Insensitivity

We are shocked at the government’s sheer insensitivity in announcing on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe that it is going ahead with the Jaitapur nuclear power project. This means disregarding the overwhelming opposition to the project by 40,000 local people and the larger public, the caution counselled by numerous experts, and the grave safety concerns raised by the stillunfolding Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. These concerns are eminently reasonable. Many governments, including those in Germany, China and Switzerland, have taken them on board by adopting a “pause-and-review” approach towards reactor construction. The European Union has ordered “stress tests” on all its 143 reactors lasting many months.

Our government too promised to review its nuclear installations for safety. But the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has conducted a wholly internal, hasty and technologically superficial exercise and declared all installations perfectly safe. This is unconvincing. What is urgently needed is an independent, thorough and transparent review of our nuclear policy and installations by a broadly representative body, which includes non-DAE personnel and civil society representatives. Pending this, projects like Jaitapur must be put on hold and their clearances revoked.

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