Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Ignorant" fishermen and "educated" columnists

This is yet another of my "rare" blog in English. My apologies.

Some "educated" columnist have been mocking the "ignorant" fishermen for not trusting the big names and instead following Mr. S.p. Udayakumar

I responded to a thread in Tamil Manram mailing list and thought that even though I have been writing about it a lot in facebook, you may be interested in some excerpts:


Now, does Tamil Nadu need the plant immediately to solve its problems?  Will KKNPP bridge the gap between the demand and supply?

Here is a calculation showing that from the 2000 MW plant, Tamil Nadu is likely to get about 305 MW.

Power benefits for Tamil Nadu from KKNP 

What are Tamil Nadu's power needs?  What are its power capacities?  You can get that from the Tamil Nadu government's energy policy note at:

Tamil Nadu government's Energy policy note 

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, nuclear power (167 MW from Kalpakkam, page 17) is but a tiny fraction of Tamil Nadu's present installed capacity of (17936 MW, page 12) while wind power alone generates 6696 MW (page 13).  The problem with wind power is that there are not enough distribution lines to take the power from wind mills.  And another thing.  A lot of these power is wasted and lost to Distribution and Transmission losses as well as theft.  Presently almost one third of the power generated is lost and that is 6000 MW.  Much more than the 305 MW that KKNPP may provide.

Wouldn't it make sense then to fix these problems first?  Fix the T&D losses, power theft, fix the distribution problem to take more of wind power and increase the Solar energy from mere 10 MW to 1000 MW or even more?  And all at a fraction of the cost of nuclear power plants and without any of the huge risks that come with nuclear power plants?  Why is the government adamant about nuclear power even though it is expensive, high risk to people and produces very little to meet the energy demands?

Good question.

And you would expect the "educated" columnists to answer that right?


Read the interview of Neeraj Jain at  and see what he says.  In case you don't have the time to click the link, here is the summary:

"This expansion of nuclear energy is a follow-up to the Indo-US nuclear deal [in 2008]. The Indian government agreed to buy US$150 billion worth of nuclear reactors, equipment and other materials from the United States of America (US) in return for the US inking the agreement. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy, Shyam Saran, also promised that US companies would benefit for decades from Indian orders for military equipment. The quid pro quo was for the US to modify its laws and allow India to engage in nuclear commerce; from which it had been blocked after its nuclear tests in 1974.

The US also lobbied with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) – which is an association of 45 countries which export uranium and nuclear technology – to grant India the waiver to engage in civilian nuclear trade, despite not having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In return, the Indian government promised the NSG countries that their companies would receive lucrative contracts in India. This was candidly admitted in an article in a leading newspaper of Maharashtra by the former chief of India’s Department of Atomic Energy, Anil Kakodkar.

This is the real reason behind the Indian government opening its doors to Western nuclear energy companies. After putting the country on sale, it is now strutting about claiming that it has become a 'nuclear super-power', in addition to its claim to having become an 'economic super-power’."

You wouldn't have found out any of these by reading the newspapers or watching TV or reading your favourite columnists.

It is still difficult to understand why big names are supporting the NPP even though they are perhaps not getting rich with the "commissions."  Perhaps they sincerely believe that this is the only way to get the bomb grade material for India's nuclear arsenal.  With the IAEA cameras watching these plants, that is going to be very difficult. Now the military plants are different from civilian plants.  And KKNPP is civilian.

And in a post-Fukushima world, the standards of safety are much higher.

And in a democracy, people are entitled to ask tough questions of their government and they deserve an answer.  Not innuendos.  Not insults.  Not arrests.  Not buzzing over their heads with coastguard planes.  Those are the actions of dictators.

In a democracy, scientists and engineers and governments are accountable to the people.

One does not insult them as ignorant fishermen.

They are aware of the promises that the nuclear industry made to the Japanese people.

They know the cost of trusting their leaders, their engineers and their scientists.


Can it happen here?

No one can honestly say no.

It doesn't need an earth quake.

It doesn't need a tsunami.

All it needs is for some process, some backup process to fail.

Some day.

Any day.

And the results are dire.

And the people who would pay with their lives and lose the livelihood of generations yet to come, are protesting.

You don't have to agree with them.

You don't have to support them.

But you have no right to mock them with smug superiority.

Because, they know what they are doing.

And you don't.


மணி மு. மணிவண்ணன் said...

மணி மு. மணிவண்ணன் said...

The Hindu finally published an article in support of the Kudankulam protesters:


Until now this has bee portrayed as the battle between superstitious, gullible or purchased rural idiots vs. the elite of India interested in building modern infrastructure with its grand nuclear temples.

That is far from the truth.

Educated people with a soul are indeed supporting the protesters and their right to demand answers from the government.

Finally, I see a little crack in the media censorship of that opinion. I am gratified to see the supporting comments from other educated elites as well.

And previously, Anna Hazare's movement leaders also stood with the protesters.

It is still a David vs. Goliath battle.

But at least the voices will now be heard widely. And hopefully, the Hindu readers will think about the questions that are being raised. And ask why the governments are trying to crush the protests brutally.

And hopefully, they will see past the "foreign hand" misdirection, "church induced trouble" myth and ask the tough questions that must be asked of the nuclear establishment.

And they ask why the government is not investing their money properly in technologies that are really modern and safe.

We are living in the post-Fukushima world.

We should not accept empty assurances.

If this can happen in Japan which is most sensitive about nuclear disasters, it can happen anywhere. Including France. Including Canada. Nobody is immune.

Ask the fundamental question.

"What are you doing with the nuclear waste?"

Gnana said...

It is expected with the stage1 of the Koodankulam plant only 100MW will be given to TN. The Average plant factor of the Indian Nuclear plants are about 50%. So the number of kWh that will be coming from this Koodankulam plant is like a 50 MW plant running all the time.
Solar Power plants have an average plant factor of 20%. So a 150MW solar PV with installed costs like $1200/kW will feed all this power required. The Solar Plant will not need any fuel costs.
The economics of Power generation can be quickly worked out.
With private firms like Bridge to India are planing to have rooftop PV on large commercial and Industrial electricity consumer roof with no upfront payment to be made by them. They will get some lease money for giving the roof for 20 years. Electricity produced will be sold to the TN Grid. Such distributed Generation will reduce Transmission and Distribution losses of the TN grid system.There is no danger and no pollution. TN grid hydro plants can be operated more only in the nights to take the load. The Solar Energy out put matches with the day Industrial load and will help to reduce the I2R losses in the conductors.
These are points that come to my mind as an Electrical Engineer with very long years of service in the electricity sector.
The point Dr A.Kalam was interested in this project is that they need fuels for there missiles from these nuclear reactors.
What GoI should do is to have some research reactors in remote places to produce such fuel if there is a necessity and should not have such large plants close to highly populated areas.
There must be good proper INDEPENDENT qualified REGULATOR if India wants to go for Any further Nuclear Power plants. In the absence it is very dangerous to go ahead.
It is also noted that when the TN Nuclear plant developed leaks last time it took more than two years to get that plant going. So we wll need the same capacity plant size to remain as standby to meet any plant shut downs. This will extra plant capacity will be diesel/liquid fuel operated plant. all this will add to more imports of costly ever price increasing fuels.
The out let temperature of Cooling water from the plant sent back to the sea should not be higher than 6 deg C is the International norm. We hear that the temperature out let of cooling water back to the sea will be very much higher.
This high temperature release of cooling water back to the sea will have very bad environmental effect on the living species in the sea around Koodankulam. Hope these will add points fr your very good informative article. Thanks