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India: Statement of Students Against Nuclear Power

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asians Against Nukes March 29, 2008 URL: groups.yahoo.com/group/SAAN_/message/1102 o o o o Kerala students, who have set up an organisation, Students
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2008
      South Asians Against Nukes
      March 29, 2008
      URL: groups.yahoo.com/group/SAAN_/message/1102

      o o o o

      Kerala students, who have set up an organisation, Students Against
      Nuclear Power (SANP), were on indefinite hunger strike at New Delhi's
      Jantar Mantar to project their demand that the Indo-US civil nuclear
      deal be scrapped, gave up their fast after eight days on March 17,
      2008 following the intervention of and assurance from various
      socio-political leaders. Their demand has been powerfully raised in
      the Lok Sabha and in the crucial meeting of the UPA-Left committee on
      the deal. They received support from various political leaders in
      carrying the struggle forward against the Indo-US nuclear deal. The
      initiative taken by them is regarded as a distinct one of its kind as
      it is directly related to the future of the nation, said many in
      solidarity. Members of Parliament like D. Raja, P. Karuunakaran, M.P.
      Veerendra Kumar, C.K. Chandrappan, Pannyan Raveendran, Dr K.S. Manoj,
      Dr P.P. Koya, political leaders like Annie Raja, G. Devarajan, K.N.
      Ramachandran, Dhruv Narayanan, and eminent personalities like Medha
      Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Sandeep Pandey, Swami Agnivesh, Praful Bidwai,
      Prashant Bhushan, and so many others visited and expressed their
      solidarity with the students' struggle against nuclear power. Many
      faculty members and students from Delhi Universtiy, Jamia Mallia
      Islamia, JNU and AMU came to them. Pratidhwani, a Delhi based
      movement, observed a day's hunger strike with the students to express
      their solidarity. Memoranda were forwarded to the Prime Minister, UPA
      chairperson, Defence Minister and External Affairs Minister through
      Member of Lok Sabha Sandeep Dikshit. Demanding the scrapping of the
      deal and supporting the students' hunger strike, hundreds of
      telegrams, fax messages and e-mails were sent to the Prime Minister's
      Office from different parts of the country. Several demonstrations,
      poster campaigns and dharnas in solidarity with the hunger strike of
      the SANP took place in different parts of the country. The students,
      while winding up the fast, declared that they 'are ready to sacrifice
      and will resume the struggle if the government is going on with the
      deal'. The position of the SANP activists has been spelt out in the
      following statement.


      STATEMENT OF STUDENTS AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER (SANP) ON INDEFINITE
      HUNGER STRIKE IN PROTEST AGAINST INDO-US NUCLEAR DEAL

      The anxieties concerning the Indo-US nuclear deal began on July 18,
      2005 with the Joint Declaration of our Prime Minister, Manmohan
      Singh, and US President George Bush. The treaty is known as the 123
      deal because of the changes that were made in the 123 section of the
      American Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that allows the US to enter into
      treaties with India which has not signed the NPT. There are 17
      sections in 22 pages in the deal which is relevant for 40 years. The
      Hyde Act is another amendment made to this deal that will allow the
      US to sell nuclear technology and equipments to India. The Hyde Act
      is known after the name of Henry Joseph Hyde, the Senator who
      proposed the Act.

      The PM insists that nuclear energy is the only source for
      meeting the energy crisis of our country. But one needs to look at
      the energy production of this country and compare how much nuclear
      energy India will get from the nuclear deal before signing the deal.
      Thermal and hydro-electric projects contribute 55 per cent and 22 per
      cent respectively of the total production of power in the country.
      The 4120 megawatts that come from nuclear power projects contribute
      only two per cent. The government claims that if the nuclear deal is
      signed, by 2040 the nuclear power production will touch 40,000
      megawatts. The Planning Commission places it at 29, 000 megawatts by
      the year 2021. The wind generated power units and the recently
      improved power generating source jointly produce 10,715 megawatts
      (7.5 per cent) whereas nuclear power with its history of more than
      fifty years has been able to produce only 4120 megawatts.

      The cost of nuclear generated electricity is appalling.
      Coal/thermal power is priced at Rs 3.73 crores/megawatt as against
      the Rs 7.4 crores/megawatt from nuclear power. Natural Gas and
      hydroelectric power can be generated at Rs 2 crores per megawatt. The
      imported reactors that are part of the nuclear deal will take the
      cost to something like Rs 11.1 crores (inclusive of the interests of
      the production capital). Statistics show that the cost of nuclear
      power is five times that of hydroelectric power and three-and-a-half
      times that of thermal/coal power. It might be relevant to recall the
      financial burden that Enron, with its mere 2000 megawatt capacity,
      brought to bear on the Government of Maharashtra. The burden of
      40,000 megawatts will be staggering.

      A study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of
      Technology reveals that the US spends 4.2 cent for coal generated
      power and 7.6 per cent for nuclear power. The disposal of nuclear
      waste, which poses a grave threat to all forms of life, is still a
      daunting problem. The cost of decommissioning of nuclear reactors
      exceeds that of commissioning. The carelessness of man, internal
      unrest, civil wars, natural disasters raise serious challenges to
      nuclear safety. The cases of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are hard
      to forget. Einstein's observation that research on nuclear safety
      should be given priority over nuclear energy is worth recalling here.

      India, a fast-developing country, is in urgent need of
      nuclear safety. What is of paramount importance is why and how India
      should depend on nuclear energy. It is not wise to engage in a
      frantic rush for nuclear energy which causes serious social crisis
      when there are other more productive and less harmful ways of
      producing power using modern technology and natural resources. Those
      who argue that we will need nuclear energy when the coal and thermal
      sources of power are exhausted should remember that uranium, which is
      essential for nuclear power, will not be available as a long term
      source.

      We need to depend on alternative sources and systems of
      generating power that will not destroy the balance of nature or the
      existence of humanity. Solar power is the fastest growing option that
      is receiving widespread attention and acceptance. Scientists have
      come to the conclusion that from the Rajasthan desert alone one lakh
      megawatts of solar power is possible. On a long term basis, we need
      to develop solar, hydro-electric, wind and biomass and for short-term
      dependence we can look to thermal and coal. In Nepal alone, there is
      the possibility of producing 8000 megawatts of hydro-electric power
      and our National Hydroelectric Power Corporation points out that we
      can make around 50,000 megawatts of hydro-electric power. Many mini
      hydro-electric projects and alternative systems and sources are
      possible. This being the situation, we need to think whether we
      should lead ourselves into a Gordian knot (nuclear deal) that America
      insists.

      Another objection raised by those who support nuclear power
      is that coal/thermal power generating stations will worsen global
      warming. There is no doubt that use of fossil energy will augment the
      green-house effect. Just because India stops using such energy is not
      going to help. If India's coal reactors emit 500 kilos of waste US
      reactors emit five tonnes. Statistics show that the major culprit of
      global warming is the US. The US has always resisted everything that
      is against their interests. The US had no qualms about walking out of
      the Kyoto agreement. Only selfish interest governs the US in this
      nuclear deal. Section 104 (d) 5 (b) is ample proof of that country's
      selfish concerns in this deal.

      The above data proves without doubt that for power safety and
      environmental protection we need coal based power generating stations
      and not nuclear power reactors. We need to rely on clean coal
      technology to reduce environmental pollution. A major chunk of the
      domestic power use is the electric bulb invented by Edison more than
      one hundred years ago. Such bulbs convert 90 per cent of electricity
      to light. The use of such bulbs in India is estimated at Rs 100
      crores. Replacing them with CFL bulbs will reduce energy consumption
      by more than fifty per cent. You can save the environment from
      thousands of tonnes of carbon waste, and reduce the electricity bill
      in households. The longer life of the CFL bulbs will also reduce E
      wastes. The total cost will be somewhere between Rs 7000-10,000
      crores. Such being the case, to argue that nuclear power is the only
      solution is fooling oneself.

      ---

      THE deal, which is supposed to be for power safety, refers only to
      electric energy. Electricity forms only a portion of our energy
      consumption. Oil, natural gas and petrochemical products are not even
      discussed. The demand for oil and natural gas are on the rise by the
      day. Seventytwo per cent of the petroleum consumption of our country
      is imported. According to the Integrated Energy Policy Report of the
      Planning Commission, by 2032, the demand for petroleum will rise from
      33,400 lakh tonnes to 46,200 lakh tonnes and that of natural gas
      from 990 to 1840. These figures show that the Indo-American nuclear
      deal will meet only a small portion of our energy demand. Before one
      enters into this deal, one needs to take into consideration some
      facts. India's share in the world energy consumption is a mere two
      per cent. India stands first globally as the importer of oil. Nuclear
      energy meets only three-to-five per cent of the demands for energy as
      compared to 30 and 10 per cent of oil and natural gas. In the future
      40 per cent of the energy demand will be from oil and natural gas.

      The pipeline project from Iran through Pakistan will be a
      partial solution to our demands. The project with an output of 250
      lakh tonnes of natural gas would be a significant step towards saving
      millions of rupees. The figures furnished by the Institute for Energy
      and Environmental Resources are significant. The cost of one billion
      Terminal Unit of Natural Gas (Iran-Pakistan pipeline project) is a
      mere $ 4 as against the international market price of $ 14. The
      possibility of a very cost effective means of acquiring natural gas
      will be nullified by the Indo-American nuclear deal.

      American business concerns give much importance to the 123
      deal. The US Chamber of Commerce, the largest business federation in
      the world, expects around Rs 60 lakh crores from India as part of the
      Indo-American deal. The business houses in India also expect crores
      of rupees from this deal. The big shots in the government also expect
      monetary gains from this deal. How can one claim that they are the
      followers of Gandhiji who insisted that all plans for development
      should be implemented without losing sight of the poorest sections of
      our country? That smiling toothless revered old man sitting on the
      wall of Manmohan Singh's office would have said 'no' to the Indo
      American nuclear deal. 'Quit Nuclear Deal'-that is what that great
      old man, who passed away sixty years ago, would be exhorting us to do
      today.

      The intention of the Indian Government is to amend the
      nuclear deal and open up the production of nuclear energy to private
      corporations. This will destroy the nuclear safety of our country.
      The possibility of uranium and plutonium falling into the hands of
      terrorists cannot be ruled out. It would be worthwhile to remember
      Einstein's words-"It is dangerous to give greater powers to private
      agencies and corporations that do not have equally great
      responsibilities".

      The meagre energy that we get through the 123 deal will be
      achieved at the expense of sacrificing India's sovereignty and
      integrity. It will be the end of our self-reliance in the field of
      nuclear energy and it will offer shackles in the sphere of foreign
      policy.
      The question whether India should keep aloof from nuclear
      energy when China, Korea and France even with their energy resources
      from coal are favourable towards nuclear energy has also come up. It
      is not by quoting the example of France or China that India should
      take a decision; rather, it should be based on the assessment of
      technological advances that India has achieved in the field of
      nuclear energy. Indian scientists have pointed out that the nuclear
      deal will destroy the second stage fast breeder technology that our
      country alone possesses.

      India's voting against Iran can be seen as a move only to
      appease America. This is ironic since those who voted against Iran
      are the followers of Nehru who once reiterated to America that we are
      not international beggars. Such actions adversely affect the sense of
      justice that this country has always upheld.

      What is more essential for the power, security and
      self-sufficiency of the country is to use the energy that is
      available from oil and natural gas. These do not lie in buying
      reactors from GE or Westinghouse. To make this possible we must have
      peace in the Asian region. The intention of the American imperialist
      forces is to cause unrest. Do we need this deal that will sacrifice
      the sovereignty and foreign policy of our country? Power safety means
      self-reliance. Remember what the Urdu poet Iqbal wrote:

      The ocean told the dew drop:
      "Come I will protect you in my lap."
      The dewdrop said: "I prefer to die on the hot sands rather than merge
      myself in you."

      ____________

      SOUTH ASIANS AGAINST NUKES (SAAN):
      An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned
      about the dangers of Nuclearisation in South Asia
      http://s-asians-against-nukes.org/

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