Website moved!!

Dear friends!!

Lokayat has a new web platform! Our website address is

From now onwards we will be updating our blog and upcoming events there.

feed of the blog:

Also connect with us in




Thanks & Regards,

Lokayat Web Team

Doctorate in Allaying Fears about Technology(DAFT)


-By Dr. Surendra Gadekar

At a time when the whole world has been shocked by the multiple and continuing tragedies that have befallen Japan and most people completely shit scared by the daily news of new nuclear catastrophes, various functionaries in the nuclear establishment in India are outdoing each other in a race issuing reassuringly outrageous statements.

What would you make of this:
Regarding the French EPR reactors which are proposed for Jaitapur plant in Ratnagiri district, Banerjee and Jain said the design of EPR was based on the design experience of 58 reactors running in Europe, and when the Indian EPR will come up it would have seen the experience of five such similar plants in Finland, France, China and UK. (Press Trust of India March 15, 2011).

Reading the above, would you guess that not a single EPR reactor has yet been built let alone operating anywhere in the world. Reactors under construction in Finland and in France itself are years over schedule and way over budget. Even if all these reactors in all these countries did start operating before Jaitapur reactors were completed, how would their experience help in design
modification of Jaitapur reactors which these very officials assure us, are planned for early construction. The 58 reactors whose running experience is supposed to reassure us, are all of different design.

Mr. S K Jain is the Chairman and Managing Director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL). He said that, “India was uniquely placed as it had a centralised emergency operating centre with well drawn procedures scrutinised by regulators.” This when India is one country where the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is not an independent organisation but a part of the Department of Atomic Energy(DAE) and does not even have a separate building to house itself and needs to share rooms and toilet facilities with their bosses in DAE premises. If you were still in confusion about the uniqueness of Indian reactors he adds, “Our plants also have multiple level of heat removal system.” So all you may have known about the “defense in depth” philosophy and how there are multiple shields between you and nuclear catastrophe, gentle reader is true only if you happen to be lucky enough to live in this “uniquely placed” country known as India.

But Mr Jain is not finished yet. He joins Dr Bannerjee in saying that In the case of Japanese nuclear plants it was the station blackout which was the root cause and such a thing will not happen in the existing as well as future Indian reactors.” Just to remind ourselves, on the night of March 31st, 1993, there was a devastating fire that started in the turbine room of the reactors at Narora Atomic Power Station, at 3.31AM and continued to rage uncontrolled for over two hours causing extensive damage to the generator and power supply cables. Unlike the reactors at Fukushima that shut down automatically when their sensors detected the massive earthquake, the reactors had to be shut-down manually by brave station staff. During most of this time, the control room of the reactor was filled with smoke and the emergency control room – a special ‘safety’ feature at Narora – was rendered useless in the absence of emergency power supply. The second reactor unit at Narora had been shut down for several months after a generator identical to that in unit-1 was reportedly damaged on account of overheating. The most serious aspect of this fire was complete loss of station power for a period of 17 hours and the fact that none of the three emergency diesel generators were able to work, since the cables connecting them had also burned down in the fire. However, Mr Jain and Dr Bannerjee knowing all about the future are technically correct in their statement, since they say that a station blackout will not happen in Indian reactors.
But some of the statements they have now come up with are in a category all their own worthy of international awards. So we have Mr S.K.Jain, saying, “There is no nuclear accident or incident in Japan’s Fukushima plants. It is a well planned emergency preparedness programme which the nuclear operators of the Tokyo Electric Power Company are carrying out to contain the residual heat
after the plants had an automatic shut-down following a major earthquake.” (Press Trust of India March 15, 2011).

Not to be left behind, his boss, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Srikumar Banerjee D.Sc. (Honouris Clausa, Dhanbad School of Mines) helpfully added, “Once the plant shuts down after an emergency situation automatically, the fission reaction stops and it is only the residual heat that has to be quenched and that is what the Japanese were doing. “Because of the unprecedented Tsunami, the external power was unavailable for the emergency diesel generators to take over… during the process the pressure was building up in the reactor which had to be released in a phased manner, that resulted in the exothermic reaction due to hydrogen
generation. “It was purely a chemical reaction and not a nuclear emergency as described by some section of
media,” Dr Banerjee said. By now I am sure, most of you readers, having watched these horrible scenes of reactors exploding like Diwali firecrackers, hearing about alarmingly elevated levels of radiation, and about evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people and seeing radiation monitors scanning scores of citizens, must be completely confused. But that is only because you are not DAFT (Doctorate in Allaying Fears about Technology). Having met many DAFTs in my time, let me try to explain.

Reactors exploding in a puff of white smoke releasing all kinds of radioactive poisons all over the country side; fires in spent fuel pools whose inventory of long lived radioactive nuclei is much higher than inside the reactor core and which will do far greater and longer lasting damage to the environment and to human health, besides blighting the future of future generations, is not a nuclear emergency! A nuclear emergency is only when the process driving the explosion is a nuclear chain reaction like that taking place in a nuclear bomb and that, as these worthies will hasten to rightly assure you, just cannot take place in a nuclear reactor. So Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Windscale, (all serious past accidents) were none of them, nuclear emergencies. Chernobyl was just a steam explosion. Three Mile Island, where the reactor core had melted and there was a huge bubble of hydrogen that luckily did not explode was therefore no emergency at all. Windscale was just a fire in a block of graphite that happened to sit inside a nuclear reactor: could happen to any body.

If you happen to live near a nuclear power plant like I do, this is very good news. As you might probably know, it is impossible to obtain life or property insurance in case of a nuclear emergency. But since nuclear emergencies are only a figment in the imagination of some in the media who don’t know a chemical exothermic reaction when they see one, getting insurance should be a breeze. Private insurance is a necessity especially since Dr Bannerjee was bending over backwards in trying to accommodate the interests of poor multinational companies as opposed to those of the rich Indian multitudes during the debate over the Nuclear Liability Act. I feel so much better already.

(The Author is a PhD. from IIT Kanpur and was the editor of the anti-nuclear magazine “Anu Muktee”)

Nuclear disaster: Japan now, India next?

As nuclear disaster ravages Japan, Congress is moving ahead with plans to build the worlds largest nuclear power development on an earthquake hotspot — putting millions of Indians at risk.

The Jaitapur nuclear reactors have been rubber-stamped by State authorities and the Environment Ministry, but Prime Minister Singh can intervene to suspend the plants’ construction. With Japan’s catastrophe fueling media scrutiny and public outcry, the project’s financial backers are thinking about pulling out — and Singh is deciding whether to rush to the project’s rescue, or move to end it.

Our voices can tip the balance. This is the crucial moment: if enough of us call on Singh to stop the project now, we can make the project too controversial to continue. When the petition reaches 50,000 we’ll deliver it to media and the Prime Minister’s office — sign now and then send this to family and friends.

Sign the petition on AVAAZ

No More Fukushimas! No More Chernobyls!!

No More Fukushimas! No More Chernobyls!!

Scrap the Jaitapur Nuclear Plant!!!



One  of the world’s worst ever nuclear disasters has  occurred at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On March 11, 20011, a huge earthquake led to a complex series of events, ultimately leading to a huge explosions at Unit One and Unit Three of the plant. Unit Three had plutonium fuel, which is even more deathly than ordinary uranium fuel, as plutonium is one of the most terrible elements known, with a radioactive half-life of over 24000 years! Less than one-millionth of a gram of Plutonium if inhaled can cause lung cancer. The authorities are desperately trying everything  possible to prevent  a Chernobyl type meltdown, but already there has been release of huge amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere from these reactors. There are another 4-5 reactors in 2 other nuclear plants which have also  suffered damage. There has been release of significant amount of radioactive gases from these reactors too. Over 2 lakh people living near these plants are being evacuated, and this is probably just the beginning. Eventually, if they do go back to their homes after many months, they will go with the knowledge that their  environment is contaminated with deathly radiation…

Nuclear Energy is Accident-prone

Nuclear energy is generated in a nuclear reactor when nuclear fuel (uranium 235) kept in the reactor core is split up, releasing huge amounts of heat. This heat is used to produce steam, which in turn is used to drive a turbine to generate electricity.

During this fission process, more than 200 types of new, highly radioactive elements are created. The reactor core of a 1000 MW nuclear power plant contains an amount of long-lived radiation equivalent to that released by 1000 Hiroshima bombs! Many of these radioactive elements will continue to emit radiation for thousands of years. The impact of this radiation on the human body is deathly: it causes cancer, infertility, premature aging, kidney problems, and several other diseases, and also mutates the reproductive genes – causing all kinds of diseases and birth deformities in future generations.

Because of the complex nature of nuclear technology, nuclear reactors are inherently prone to accidents; no amount of safety devices can prevent them. If a major accident occurs, and these radioactive elements are spewed into the atmosphere, they can devastate and render unlivable huge swathes of land, for thousands of years. As happened in Unit Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in northern Ukraine, on April 26, 1986. It contaminated almost all the countries in the Northern Hemisphere, with horrendous consequences. ● More than 100,000 square miles around Chernobyl – an area roughly the size of Maharashtra – is contaminated to varying degrees, and will remain so for thousands of years. ● While four lakh people were evacuated, the many millions who continue to live in this region know that they are forever contaminated, that they could develop cancer anytime, that their children and grand children and great grand children could be born with severe birth defects. ● Almost ten lakh people have died so far due to the delayed health effects of the accident, and the number will continue to increase, according to a report by the US Academy of Sciences in 2010.

The global nuclear industry, in connivance with nuclear authorities the world over, tried to play down the severity of the accident. Following Chernobyl, while many countries in Western Europe banned nuclear plants (and countries like the USA did not order new plants), a few countries like the USA, France and Japan allowed their reactors to continue operations. France, Finland and Japan even built new reactors – they claimed that lessons have been learned and they will be able to avoid future such accidents, that their reactors are strong enough to withstand terrorist attacks, tsunamis,  earthquakes… The earthquake of March 11 has blown apart their claims.

The Fukushima NPP is located in Japan’s main island, just 240 kms from Tokyo. From newsreports coming in, it is obvious that the Japanese nuclear authorities are trying to cover up the severity of the accident. The unfortunate truth is: by their connivance with the nuclear industry’s greed for profits, the Japanese political leadership has radioactively contaminated the main Japanese island, and many other islands of this island country, for thousands of years. The fallout is definitely going to affect many nearby countries  too, like Korea, China, Russia and Taiwan. By choosing nuclear power as an energy option, the Japanese leadership has done incalculable harm to the country and the Japanese people are going to pay with their health and the health of their  future generations.

Nuclear Energy is Deathly

Even if nuclear reactors operate normally, their environmental costs are terrible. People living near the reactors are inevitably exposed to radiation leakages: the diabolical elements created in the fission reaction leak out of the reactor into the environment through a number of ways. The consequence: they will continue to suffer from cancer and other deathly diseases and children will continue to be born with mental and physical deformities for thousands of years!

An even more monstrous problem is the problem of waste disposal. Each 1000 MW nuclear power plant generates 30 tons of radioactive waste annually. This waste contains elements like Plutonium and Technetium, and is intensely radioactive and remains so for more than 2 lakh years! There is no safe way of storing these deadly wastes; they are generally stored in temporary storage sites near the reactors. Everywhere, the waste is leaking, leaching, seeping through the soil into aquifers, rivers and seas, to ultimately enter the bodies of plants, fish, animals and humans.  Its consequences are going to be with us for the rest of time!

And if there is an accident… Due to numerous near-misses after Chernobyl, when a similar  catastrophe was only narrowly avoided, anti-nuclear activists like Helen Caldicott had repeatedly warned that statistically speaking, an accidental meltdown is almost a certainty sooner or later in one of the 438 nuclear power plants located in thirty-three countries around the world. It has happened, sooner  than later, just 25 years after Chernobyl.

India… Down the same  road

Proclaiming that nuclear energy is safe, clean and green, is the solution to the country’s energy crisis, the government of India is proposing to set up the world’s biggest nuclear power plant of 9900 MW at Madban (near Jaitapur, Ratnagiri district). The notorious French company Areva is to supply two new generation EPR reactors of 1650 MW each for this nuclear plant initially, and four more units later. It is a part of the government’s plan for a quantum jump in nuclear power generation, from 4560 MW at present to 63,000 MW by 2032. More such massive nuclear parks are also proposed, including one each in the coastal areas of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.

India’s Dangerous Reactors

Nuclear experts worldwide have described India’s nuclear power plants as amongst the “most dangerous in the world”. There have been at least 300 accidents at India’s reactors! Some of these, like the accident at Narora in UP in 1993 and the flooding of the reactors of Kakrapar in 1994 were extremely serious. Routine and accidental radiation releases from India’s reactors have led to a sharp rise in congenital deformities, tumours, thyroid disorders, fertility problems and other diseases in people living in the nearby villages.

Despite this distressing record, India’s nuclear establishment is now importing giant sized EPR nuclear reactors from France. Which are inherently more dangerous than our present reactors! When nuclear safety authorities of US and UK have expressed serious concerns about their design!  The nuclear plant will destroy the unique ecology of the area, which is one of the world’s top ten biodiversity hotspots. Its cooling system and hot water discharges will destroy the marine ecology and fish breeding grounds and deplete the fish population of the area.

As if these dangers were not enough, the Jaitapur nuclear plant will be located on the coast, in an area that is prone to earthquakes. Till before the Japanese nuclear meltdown, India’s nuclear authorities were citing the example of Japan, saying that if that earthquake-prone country can safely operate nuclear reactors,  India can also do so.

If a major accident were to happen at Jaitapur-Madban, just once, even 25 years later, while many kilometers of area would have to be permanently evacuated, entire Western Maharashtra, including Pune, would be radioactively contaminated! For ever. Even after Fukushima, are we going to allow this?

Alternative Solution to Energy Crisis

As the people of Japan are now learning through bitter experience, how can a technology which can be so devastating be called sustainable? The genuinely safe, and actually the only environmentally sustainable solution, to the country’s energy crisis and our future growth needs is: maximizing energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources. Through measures such as increasing generation, transmission and end-use efficiency, and elimination of wasteful consumption, it is possible to reduce electricity demand by a whopping 30-40%! That would not only wipe out the entire power sector deficit in the country which is less than 20%, there would be no need to build new power plants for the next few years!! Our future growth needs can then be met from renewable energy sources. Even the government admits their potential to be: Wind Energy – 48,500 MW; Small Hydro Power – 15,000 MW; Biomass Energy – 21,000 MW; and at least 50,000 MW from Solar Energy. The actual potential is much more. Furthermore, while nuclear electricity costs are rising, renewable energy costs are rapidly falling: wind energy is already cheaper than conventional electricity, while solar photovoltaic energy cost is expected to become so by 2015-20. Even if construction begins now, it would take at least 10 years to build a nuclear power plant. By then, it would have become unviable.

The Real Reason for India’s Nuclear Push

Why then are India’s rulers indulging in this madness of constructing nuclear power plants? One important reason: to provide foreign  corporations and big Indian corporations another opportunity to make huge profits. Ever since 1991, when the government began the globalisation of India, successive governments have been running the Indian economy solely for maximising the profits of giant foreign and Indian business houses – through schemes like SEZs, privatisation of public sector corporations and financial  institutions at throwaway prices, allowing them to plunder mountains, forests and rivers for their immense mineral wealth displacing lakhs of people, allowing them to take over education, health and other essential services and mint super profits, and so on. With nuclear power on decline in the West, the global nuclear industry is looking to Asia, especially China and India, for markets. And so the Manmohan Singh government has decided to promote nuclear energy in India. This is expected to provide foreign nuclear corporations and their Indian collaborators a $150 billion business opportunity. India’s rulers have sold their souls to the devil for a price that would have shamed Faust!


The people of Jaitapur area of Konkan have launched a determined struggle against the Areva nuclear plant. The government of India has launched a fascist onslaught on the people in order to crush their resistance. It is resorting to lathi-charges, beatings, indiscriminate arrests, false cases. Leading activists of the area have been issued externment notices from Ratnagiri district. Eminent citizens of the country, including retired judges, academicians, scientists, who have extended support to the struggle, have been barred from entering  the district!

The people of Madban and nearby villages are fighting to defend their livelihoods and the environment of their region and the health of their coming generations.  It is a struggle to save Konkan, the Kashmir of Maharashtra, from permanent destruction. We must support their struggle, Konkan belongs to all of us. Young and old, students and teachers, working people, all of us must join this struggle and demand of the government of India:

1. Scrap the Jaitapur nuclear power project! Scrap all new nuclear power plants!!

2. End the reign of terror in Jaitapur area!

3. Invest massively in energy saving and development of renewable technologies!

Join us in the following program for these demands


Dharna outside Collector Office, Pune,

Demanding scrapping of Jaitapur NPP

Date: March 17, 2011, Thursday

Time: 9 am to 11 am


Tactics of coercion by PRAFUL BIDWAI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s visit to Jaitapur failed to quell public misgivings about the nuclear power project.

WHAT was the purpose of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s first-ever visit to the controversial Jaitapur nuclear project site on the Konkan coast on February 26? If it was to acquaint himself with the many criticisms, apprehensions and questions the area’s residents have about the safety of the project with six 1,650 MW reactors, then Chavan did not succeed. He did not listen with patience and humility to its opponents to understand why they have fought the project for four years. Rather, he talked down to them, told them what was best for them, and admonished them not to be misled by “outsiders” and “foreign powers” that do not “want to see India progress”.