Jairam cites Fukushima to question Jaitapur

Once again distancing himself from his government, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has raised several red flags on India's nuclear programme, including the safety of what he calls Jaitapur-like multi-reactor nuclear parks.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ramesh flags off concerns "that have arisen in my mind following the nuclear catastrophe in Japan". He prefaces it with a disclaimer that he firmly believes that nuclear energy has an important role to play in India's energy policy.

"While I agree that sites are limited, should we not relook at this concept of nuclear parks where we set up giant capacities in one location (like at Fukushima)? Jaitapur will have 10,000 MW of capacity. Is this wise? The negative public perceptions at Jaitapur have been caused, in large measure, because of this capacity two plants would have been opposed no doubt, but would not have caused the same disquiet as six plants. I am well aware of the technical and economic advantages of a nuclear park but when there is a risk perception, we should, in my view, not be dogmatic," writes Ramesh.

He suggests delinking the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in view of the "huge drop in public confidence" in nuclear energy.

In his letter, Ramesh questions the rationale of having different technologies in the nuclear sector from indigenous to imported.

"...As things stand right now, imported reactors are going to drive our nuclear programme is this desirable from a regulatory point of view is the question," he writes.

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