Thursday demanded a nuclear moratorium following the Fukushima nuclear
plant disaster in quake-ravaged Japan.
This is the first direct call from within the government for a temporary
stop to nuclear power production. P Balaram, director of the Indian
Institute of Science, Bangalore, and member of the scientific advisory
council to the PM, has joined a growing group of scientists and
activists seeking a review of India’s nuclear strategy.
“In the light of what has happened in Japan, I believe completely
transparent safety audits are required for all nuclear projects. The
nuclear regulator must also be completely independent of the department
of atomic energy (DAE),” Balaram told HT over the phone.
Several scientists and activists had Wednesday issued a statement seeking a review of India’s nuclear policy.
But unlike others, Balaram’s demand for a moratorium — stopping nuclear
power production for the time being — is likely to embarrass the
government because of the positions he holds.
Manmohan Singh and the nuclear establishment have emphatically ruled out
a moratorium – though the Prime Minister Wednesday did propose greater
transparency in decisions regarding nuclear plants.
India’s nuclear power regulator – the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board –
reports to the DAE, which is in charge of approving projects, creating a
potential conflict of interest.
Though most countries have announced safety reviews of their nuclear
plants following the Fukushima radiation leak, Germany is the only
country to opt for a temporary moratorium. It has shut down seven aging
Balaram said he agreed to be a co-signatory to a petition seeking a
nuclear moratorium because many of India’s proposed nuclear plants were
likely to come up in populated and ecologically sensitive areas.