India needs enlightenment on nuclear power, says PM

Prime minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the apprehensions and emotional opposition to nuclear power and some other complex issues should be combated and removed through proper analysis and enlightenment.

Singh, who, for the first time shared podium Mamata Banerjee after Trinamul Congress withdrew support to the UPA2 government, invited opponents of nuke power to a structured debate and said, “Complex issues like nuclear power, genetically modified food or exploration of outer space cannot be settled by faith, emotion and fear but by structured debate, analysis and enlightenment”. Interestingly, it’s thanks to stiff opposition from West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her party, the proposed nuclear power plant at Haripur in West Bengal (to be built in Russian collaboration), had to be shelved. Singh was chairing a session on science for shaping the future of India at the centenary celebration of Science Congress here. The five-day conclave will see six Nobel laureates, 60 foreign scientists and 15,000 delegates participating.

The Prime Minister went on to add, “Scientific approach and understanding of these issues are, therefore, as vital as our core scientific capabilities.” Singh’s remarks assumed significance not only in the wake of Trinamul Congress’ opposition to Haripur nuclear power plant, but also in the face of controversy over the issue of Bt food products, especially genetically modified brinjal, and continuous protests over the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu.

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