When nuclear companies are unwilling to stake their financial health on the safety of a reactor, how can the Government ask local residents to risk their lives, ask M V Ramana and Suvrat Raju.
As the local people determinedly continue to resist the commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors, the statements of the nuclear establishment have acquired a desperate edge. The chief of the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) declared that a "foreign hand" was behind the protests. The former president, A P J Abdul Kalam, while assuring the locals that the reactors were "100 per cent safe," also wrote an article in The Hindu arguing that nuclear energy is India’s ticket to modernity and prosperity.
Such claims go back several decades; for example, Jawaharlal Nehru compared the "Atomic Revolution" to the "Industrial Revolution," arguing that "either you go ahead with it or ... others go ahead, and you ... gradually drag yourself" (Nehru 1958). However, in the intervening half a century, atomic energy has failed to live up to its promise, and the idea that it is linked to progress and economic success is now both cliched and historically inaccurate.