Former chief of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Dr Anil Kakodkar has stated that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and its generating stations have to meticulously follow their corporate social responsibilities. He revealed that what happened in Kudankulam was a misinformation campaign. DNA caught up with him in Manipal; here are the excerpts of the interview.
As the former chief of the BARC, what is your take on the present nuclear safety in India, considering the outcry in Kudankulam and Kaiga?
We are reading too much into the situation in Kudankulam. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has carried out several nuclear safety tests in the area earmarked for nuclear power generation. But due to nuclear accidents caused by tsunami in Fukushima, there is an apprehension about safety aspects in all nuclear installations. Kudankulam was a victim of this hysteria.
The MS Swaminathan Agricultural Trust in Kudankulam had carried out extensive profiling of the local vegetation and agriculture. They found out that the endemic varieties of crops will not pose any problems pertaining to nuclear power generation. The situation in Kaiga was also more or less the same.
Do the nuclear installations or the NPCIL have corporate social responsibilities like the other corporate bodies?
Yes, they do have their own corporate social responsibilities. However, they focus more on displacement trauma and livelihood problems. During my visits to Kudankulam, they have taken several measures to give the evacuees alternative livelihood options, education, transportation, connectivity, and healthcare benefits.
Many welfare works were carried out with the help of self-help groups in Kudankulam. Unfortunately, several of these have not reached the beneficiaries. Kudankulam was a friendly neighbourhood, but a lot of misinformation has crept in, sending a wrong message. I hope things get sorted out soon.
Why do incidents such as tritium leak and fires in control room occur? Why are the authorities so secretive about these accidents?
The tritium leak was a criminal act. The police and the NPCIL's internal investigation team are looking into it. Culprits will be punished. But we don't want to get into a situation where we create fear and panic.
What happened in Fukushima was an accident that happened due to the tsunami that hit Japan.
Fukushima nuclear installation, by itself, did not have any problem. However, some blame it as a nuclear accident. In a natural disaster, such as Tsunami, many things may go wrong.