Govt fails to facilitate N-power growth in country

Govt fails to facilitate N-power growth in country

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains bullish on nuclear energy, his junior in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has admitted the government's failure in convincing people on atomic power.

“We have failed. We have not been able to propagate the facts as vigorously and aggressively as we ought to have. If we are not able to convince the people, and a plant like that in Jaitapur is still suffering from certain hiccups; perhaps again the fault lies with us,”  said Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh here on Friday.

Singh, who looks after the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), made the comment at a function while referring to the Jaitapur nuclear park in Maharashtra, which has been stuck for years due to opposition from the local community and price negotiations.

Even in the just-concluded Budget session of Parliament, Shiv Sena leaders had met Modi, seeking to stop it, as fresh political troubles brew on the ambitious project, under which six 1,600-MW French-origin nuclear power units are to be installed in coastal Maharashtra.

“There are a lot of misgivings, and we are looking at that plant very ambitiously. The entire DAE is focused on it. We are trying to gather all the resources to make it one of the most glorious atomic energy establishments, but these misgivings keep coming up,” said Singh, even as he highlighted several positives of atomic power.

“We need to tell the world and the people that we have conducted a number of studies that have proved abundantly that there is no extra risk or hazard from having an atomic energy establishment in your vicinity,” he said.

DAE secretary Ratan Kumar Sinha echoed similar sentiments. “The negative information is flowing to people from rural areas. The less-educated are hampering nuclear projects in the country, and it is important to convince the population about it at large,” he said.

India currently has 5,302-MW installed capacity of nuclear power, but plans to ramp it up rapidly with foreign support. While infrastructure to produce another 4,300 MW are under construction, there are plans for at least another 40,000 MW of nuclear power.

The government's failure to attract the younger generation and spread awareness among the mass is a major challenge, as acknowledged by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment and Forest, which has asked the DAE to focus more on educating the local people on the benefits of nuclear energy.

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