‘We have learnt our lessons, started building rapport’

What are the lessons learnt from Kudankulam or Jaitapur and what is being done to avoid similar protests?

There are two issues, public apprehension about nuclear power and public expectation, and both are leading to resistance. The apprehensions were caused after the Fukushima disaster last year and particularly after images of the incident were shown repeatedly in the media. What happened at Kudankulam was a result of our not been able to apprehend that this would happen, in view of no such indication based on past harmonious relations with the neighbourhood community. In between, negative opinion makers arrived on the scene and this fuelled the protests. We have learnt that fears can be exploited and we must communicate promptly and proactively. We have now picked up these skills and are proactively communicating with the locals wherever we have new projects planned. We will also start journalists' workshops to explain how sound our technologies are. It is much easier to have a viewpoint and write about it after we explain things scientifically. Fear is logical, but we need to understand, if a similar situation arises in India, how prepared we are. And we have confirmed that our plants are adequately equipped to face a Fukushima-like scenario. The second aspect is public expectation. If a major industrial project is being planned, people expect to get the maximum and they know that there will be a difference in the land price before and after an industrial unit is set up. Hence, we follow a practice of engaging with the respective state governments and address issues through the resettlement-and-rehabilitation policy. The final compensation amount is, however, decided by the respective state governments. We are finding good acceptability in this respect.

By negative opinion, are you referring to NGOs or local leaders?

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