Former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s 10-point plan for development of Kudankulam and neighbouring areas is nothing short of an attempt to bribe the people who are on fast against the Kudankulam nuclear power project at Idinthikarai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
The proposal raises several questions. Are developmental projects a substitute for safety? What Mr. Kalam says is that the people of the Kanyakumari and neighbouring districts should accept local development so that the rich and the urbanites elsewhere can have the power from Kudankulam. The sacrifice that is being demanded is something that could affect generations of their offspring.
No nuclear plant has a history of not causing radiation exposure to at least some people in and around the plant. And we know that no human made structure and machinery including Dr. Kalam’s rockets carrying deadly missiles is immune to malfunctions, failures or accidents whatever be the technology employed. Dr. Kalam knows that well. That is why he is talking about courage like army commanders who always know that a certain percentage of his soldiers sent to the battlefield would never return. Better technology would only reduce chances of an accident and would not eliminate it. So, the question boils down to what is the acceptable level of risk.
Thousands would die and large areas of Kanyakumari and neighbouring districts would be devastated if a meltdown occurs at the nuclear plant. Thousands of acres of fertile land would remain uninhabitable for many years. There are still no accurate figures of long term casualties from the Chernobyl disaster. But we know that it would run into lakhs. That is too much of risk for just 2000 MW of power.