No alternative to nuclear energy: AEC chairman

Mumbai: Atomic Energy Commission chairman Dr Srikumar Banerjee on Tuesday said that if India wanted to become self-sufficient in the energy sector, nuclear power plants were unavoidable.

"If India wants to become self-sufficient in energy, there is no other alternative but nuclear energy, because our coal is of very poor quality," Dr Banerjee said during a public debate on the controversial Jaitapur nuclear project in coastal Ratnagiri, which is facing local opposition. The event had been organised by Prabodhan Prakashan here.

Saying that nuclear power was "good" for environment, Banerjee said, "When we talk of retention of bio-diversity, I would say nuclear power definitely gives a much better option then any other source."
He also said that India was an energy-hungry country and to achieve growth aspirations, a mix of various forms of energy was required. "It is necessary for us to exploit all forms of energy."

Former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Dr Anil Kakodkar, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, executive director of NPCIL Shashikant Dharne, and Vivek Monteiro of Konkan Bachao Samiti alongwith villagers from area around the proposed plant were present. Justice A P Shah (retd) presided over the debate.

Some of the villagers protested noisily during the debate, but Uddhav Thackeray intervened and assured them that the debate was only meant to clear the doubts, and not go give a clean chit to Jaitapur project. "Shiv Sena is on your side," he said, adding that Sena would oppose the project as long as villagers were opposed to it.