Dear Dr. Udayakumar
It is very nice of you to spearhead a movement against nuclear power stations, and we all appreciate that. Do you oppose nuclear power stations because it would deprive the fisher folk of their livelihood?
A rise of about four to five degree Celsius in the sea waters in the vicinity of the nuclear plant is likely to drive the fish away, resulting in the loss of livelihood of the fisher folk. You are perhaps missing a point. When the nuclear plant comes up, there will be employment generation, all round growth in the region with small scale industries, quality schools, transport and job openings for the locals.
You may ask for concessional power tariff for the local people, and the industries employing the local people.
If you are pessimistic about such a growth you should have a look at Tarapur, where real estate is just as costly as in Chennai. Or for that matter, Kota (in Rajasthan, India), which is churning out IITians and scientists for the Department of Atomic Energy. Such a growth will ensure that the children of fishermen in these areas will have an opportunity for good education, and hence, better job opportunities. I am sure that as someone interested in the welfare of these poor people, you would not want to perpetuate their poverty. A nuclear plant in their area is a great opportunity for them to improve their standard of living.
Are you worried that in such an eventuality, fish will become unavailable for the consumers? No need to worry about that, as the locals will no longer need fishing for their livelihood. Bigger mechanized trawlers can be employed for deep sea fishing with cold storage facilities and fish processing industries (again, a great employment opportunity for the locals). In fact, by doing this, fish and fish products will become cheaper for the consumer.
Are you apprehensive about a nuclear accident like Fukushima?
Nuclear industry is the only industry which is very closely monitored, and regulated right from the inception. They have the most comprehensive safety features; hence the probability of an accident is very small. If a fire cracker unit in Sivakasi or a gas unit in Bhopal can meet with an accident, so will a nuclear plant in a rare case. If people die because of such an eventuality, so be it; at least they would have lived a quality life till then.[sc1]
Why should we build nuclear plants while Japan is closing them? Let us first grow up in stature, improve our GDP and eradicate poverty. It is only then we should compare ourselves to Japan and the US economically. There is no point in saving people from a perceived disaster, when they are dying of hunger.
Perhaps you are apprehensive of the genetic effects of the radiation leakages from the plant on the local population. You must be aware that the maximum radiation exposure suffered by people in the close surroundings of the Fukushima plant after the accident, is of the order of 50 mSv (very few people got exposed to this level), and the average exposure is less than one mSv (a unit of radiation dose). 50 mSv is the exposure workers like me in atomic energy establishments are allowed per year (as per International Commission on Radiological Protection Regulations), provided they do not exceed 100 mSv in five years. The risk of cancer incidence from this exposure is estimated to be a very small fraction of the risk of cancer incidence due to tobacco chewing, smoking, etc.
Please call off your agitation and bargain for free or subsidised electricity, good roads, schools, free transport and employment for local people.