17 June, 2021

The Critical Conundrum

The Indian establishment's craze for nuclear power and its destructive potential explained, critiqued, questioned

The Critical Conundrum

How should one describe an industry that promised abundant, safe, environment-friendly energy that would be “too cheap to meter”, but has delivered only one-tenth of the projected electricity, caused catastrophic accidents, contaminated millions of square miles, poisoned lakhs of people and proved “too costly to matter”? Nuclear power has globally inflicted losses exceeding a trillion dollars—in subsidies, abandoned projects, cash losses and other damage. It inspires fear and loathing. In most countries, it can only be imposed undemocratically.

Nuclear power is in global decline. The number of reactors worldwide peaked in 2002; their output peaked in 2006. When production was at a peak, nuclear power contributed 17 per cent to the world’s supply. It has gone down to 11 per cent. After Fukushima, nucl­ear power stands irredeemably discredited and is probably moribund.

In India, however, the elite treats it as the technology of the future, promising an unending supply for unbridled consumption. And we have a State that...

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