INDIAN DREAMS AND REALITY is all about the aspirations and dreams of 1 billion plus Indians in the light of growth opportunity window resulting from global economic problems, cheap and qualified human resource availability and a favourable demographic mix. The blog also discusses the ground realities like corruption, black money, governance issues, Energy security options( Renewal, Hydro and Nuclear ) and Indian march towards global economic super power status.
INDIAN QUEST FOR ENERGY SECURITY: A CORRECT PERSPECTIVE
As appeared in tHE SUNDAY TRIBUNE, CHANDIGARH
ON THE RECORD BY
‘foreign hand’ guides govt more than the people
ACTIVISTSare up in arms against the government for pursuing the
nuclear energy option, “disregarding public concerns”. The former Union Energy
Secretary and a leading environmentalist EAS Sarma rubbishes talk of “foreign
hand” behind the public protests. The retired IAS official spoke at length on
different aspects of energy security.
The Prime Minister has blamed NGOs for
engineering protests against Kudankulam nuclear plant. What is your response?
The Prime Minister’s statement was
ill-advised, devoid of a realistic appreciation of the ground realities and
lacked appreciation of genuine public concern over the potential dangers of
nuclear technology, as reflected by the catastrophic explosions in the reactors
at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl
in 1986 and Fukushima 2011. It amounts to belittling the voice of dissent in a
democracy like ours.
The “foreign hand” argument applies more to
the government than to the people. Is it not the foreign hand that forced the
UPA government to push through the Indo-US nuclear deal to serve the commercial
interests of another country rather than promoting self-reliance? Has not the
country been pushed into a permanent state of dependence on imported nuclear
reactors and imported fuel for no compelling reason?
Has the government followed any competitive
bidding procedure for deciding the reactor suppliers for Jaitapur, Kovvada and
the other nuclear power complexes? Has this not imposed an undue cost burden on
the electricity consumers of the country? Is it not the foreign hand that compelled
the government to pass the civil nuclear liability law to shift the burden of
accident liability from the foreign reactorsuppliers to the tax payers in India ?
What safety issues do you think the government
needs to addres?
The PMO had assured that safety audits and
action taken on existing plants will be placed in the public domain. More than
nine months have lapsed and yet DAE/ NPCIL have remained secretive. DAE should
take people into confidence. It should order risk analysis studies, assuming
human and mechanical failures, as well as seismic events. In the Deccan plateau, which was considered stable, we had the
Koyna disaster and the Latur earthquake, in which thousands lost their lives
and homes. Our knowledge of the impact of low-intensity radioactive exposure is
Can we afford to abandon the nuclear route to
meet our power needs?
It is a fallacious argument put forward by
energy illiterates. A 10 per cent saving in Transmission and Distribution
losses in India
through additional investment on T&D network will save 1,56,000 MW of
capacity, which is more than 2.5 times of the 60,030MW of nuclear capacity
projected up to 2030-31 in the Integrated Energy Policy (IEP) report of the
Planning Commission. If a 20 per cent efficiency improvement is realised in our
lighting devices, which is within the domain of possibility, we can similarly
do away with most of the nuclear capacity addition planned.
What alternative scenarios do you propose?
Germany, where 26 per cent of
electricity comes from nuclear sources, has decided to do away with it in a
decade and shift to solar and other renewable sources. In India, hardly
2.5 per cent of electricity comes from nuclear. We have much more of solar
insolation and sources of renewable energy.
What ails our energy policy?
Our energy policy should be based on demand
management, efficiency improvements and renewables as the first priorities.
When I talk of demand management, I talk of changes in urban planning,
transport planning, building architecture and so on. For example, a tonne-km of
freight traffic requires seven times of oil products by road compared to rail.
We therefore ought to think of “golden quadrilaterals” of rail rather than
highways. Similarly, one passenger-km of passenger traffic in a city based on
cars and two-wheelers consumes twice the oil consumed by buses.