Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: nuclear power

Defence purchases

India is a nuclear power and wants to be a permanent member of UN Security Council yet imports warplanes, warships, arms and ammunition.

As per one report there is need of Armoured Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS). Israel Military Industries which used to supply that ammunition is blacklisted and a Russian company has quoted a price that is 400% higher. This is like Commonwealth Games scam where projects were not completed on time and goods were brought at high prices citing urgency. It is not clear whether Israel and Russia are the only countries with that ammunition. What is the urgency? India is not going to war with any country. If any country attacks India we can hit them with missiles and drop nuclear bombs on that country.

As per another report India has ordered 80 Mi-17 V5 helicopters from Russia. The delivery has to be spread over three years and there has been a delay. Previously there has been delay and cost escalation in case of naval ship Admiral Gorshkov.

India should have been self-sufficient in all respects of defence. USA, UK, Russia and France sell weapons. In India many years and thousands of crores of rupees were spent on developing main battle tank and light combat aircraft. There was talk of allowing private sector to manufacture what is required for defence but nothing seems to have happened. May be imports are a lucrative way to get bribes, commissions and kickbacks. Foreign companies may be allowed to manufacture warplanes, warships, arms and ammunition in India and India should buy only what is made in India.

Land acquisition

The protests by farmers against land acquisition in UP and support to them by politicians belonging to Congress, BJP, SP and RLD have raised questions about land acquisition. The central government has announced introduction of a bill in the monsoon session. Politicians oppose land acquisitions in states where they are not in power and justify land acquisitions in states where they are in power.

Protests take place all over India against land acquisition. Sometimes the protesters resort to violence and blockade. Transport is disrupted. People face hardships.

Land for some people is more than livelihood. It is about lifestyle, emotions, identity and history. Some don’t want to sell ancestral land.

Government should not acquire land for private companies. Industrialists should acquire the land where they want from the people by paying the amount people want. They should buy the land after making sure that all are ready to sell. Government should not step in even if one person is unwilling to sell his land.

Government should not acquire land for public private partnerships (P3). Many times P3 means public money going to private pockets.

Public purpose should mean roads, railways, airports and ports. It should not mean factories, refineries, nuclear power plants, theatres, malls, SEZs and stadia. India has enough cantonments and there is no need for more cantonments. Industrialisation is not the job of the state and should be left to private sector.

Perils of nuclear power

Recent events in Japan have once again reminded us the perils of nuclear power. The chances of an accident in a nuclear power station were said to be one in a million but when that accident happens the consequences are catastrophic and last for generations.

Even when no accident takes place, disposal of nuclear waste is a problem. Not much is known how it is done and where it is dumped or buried.

Japan is familiar with earthquakes and many of its buildings are earthquake resistant. However when an earthquake of magnitude 9 was followed by tsunami , Japan could not handle it. It will take many days to know the full impact of explosions at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Some advocate nuclear power as an alternative to coal and oil. Nuclear power is clean while coal and oil cause carbon emissions and damage the atmosphere is the argument. Solar power is said to be expensive. With safeguards in place, nuclear power is safe.

Solar power and wind power need to be used and nuclear power needs to be phased out. Large scale production of solar panels will make solar power cheap. Coal and oil will finish one day. Japan had safeguards but that could not prevent explosions in nuclear power plant.

In Chernobyl , where a nuclear accident took place in 1986, children are born deformed. Many are born with sicknesses. Vast areas around Chernobyl are contaminated. Many people had to be evacuated. The wind spread radioactivity to many countries.

India has many nuclear reactors. Some of them may be retained to produce nuclear weapons to deter enemy attacks. Other reactors should be phased out. No new nuclear power stations should be built. Indian nuclear reactors have survived earthquakes so far but there is no guarantee that they will be able to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 9. Children being born with deformities and sicknesses is too high a price to pay for nuclear power.

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