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India’s Ambitions With Atomic Plants: Two Opposing Views via The Wall Street Journal

In coming weeks the nuclear plant at Kudankulam — built on a part of the Indian coastline struck 10 years ago this week by a devastating tsunami — will start officially selling electricity into the Indian power grid.

The Wall Street Journal this week wrote about the controversy over the plant’s location and filed a video report from the village of Idintha KaraiIn separate interviews, the Journal discussed Kudankulam with Swapnesh Kumar Malhotra of India’s Department of Atomic Energy, and S.P. Udayakumar, founder of a prominent activist group, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy.

Here are edited excerpts of selected topics discussed in the two interviews.

The Wall Street Journal: What are protesters’ concerns about the plant?

S.P Udayakumar: We are not very good in disaster management here in India.

We have been opposing this Kudankulam nuclear power plant for several years now. But the Fukushima accident did make a huge difference. Only after Fukushima did people show more interest in this issue, because they all saw what happened in Fukushima on their TV sets.

The fisherfolk [who live near the coastal plant] depend on the sea and seafood for livelihood. And when the nuclear power plant dumps coolant water into the sea, it is going to have very bad effect on the sea, seawater and their sea catch.

This particular part of India has a high incidence of cancer because of high natural radiation. So we don’t want to add to the radiation problem that already exists., or “Broken Coast,” where a protest movement against the plant is centered.

Activists worry about the risk of tsunamis, citing the example of Fukushima, Japan, where a nuclear plant damaged by a tsunami in 2011 leaked radiation. India’s government describes the Kudankulam plant as state-of-the-art and engineered to be safe from the waves.
「。。。」WSJ: Were changes needed at Kudankulam following the Fukushima disaster?

Mr. Malhotra: No major changes in design. It was only change in terms of the placement of equipment.

[After the Fukushima disaster, Indian examiners] studied each and every plant. In general it was found that nuclear power plants in India are better equipped to handle some situations [than were Japanese plants].

WSJ: How should the need for power be balanced with the need for safety?

Mr. Udayakumar: We say that India, being a highly and densely populated country, with a very bad disaster-management culture, with lot of corruption and inefficiency on many areas, we cannot have a Fukushima or a Chernobyl in our country. We do need electricity, we do need development. We want business with Americans and Russians and everybody else on the earth. We want to grow with rest of the world, but not at the cost of our well-being and survival, and the welfare of our progeny.

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