Fukushima wakes up NPCIL, people

Public outreach spend jumps 190% in 2 years, visits to n-plant sites also increase, reveals RTI query

The sudden spurt in protests against power plants after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011 seems to have wisened up the country's nuclear fraternity.

An RTI query revealed Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) increased spend on public awareness activities by nearly 190 per cent in the last two years.

Its expense on developing education, health and infrastructure also went up 52 times in fiscal 2012-13 from 2009-10. The number of requests for visits to nuke plants also increased significantly from 237 in 2009-10 to 614 this year.

While expenditure on public awareness activities and material was Rs 176.35 lakh in 2009-10 and Rs 167.46 lakh in 2010-11, it saw a massive jump in 2011, the year the Fukushima disaster sparked debates across the world.

While Rs 512.24 lakh was spent on public awareness activities and material in 2011-2012, the figure for 2012-13 (till September 2012) stood at Rs 485.06 lakh.

Recently, Atomic Energy Commission chairman R K Sinha told The Indian Express the nuclear fraternity had learnt its lessons and proactively started building rapport with neighbourhoods at places projects are coming up.

NPCIL efforts to reach out to and connect with people and the curiosity about nuclear power post Fukushima increased the number of people visiting nuclear plant sites. While NPCIL received 237 visit requests in 2009 and 223 in 2010, the number went up steadily in the last two years to 396 in 2011 and 614 in 2012. Of these, 482 visits happened.

NPCIL spent Rs 99.85 lakh on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities such as education, health and infrastructure. The amount went up six times (to Rs 604.63 lakh) in 2010-11. In 2011-12, the corporation spent/committed Rs 2,222.04 lakh for the purpose and Rs 5,200 lakh this fiscal.

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