Stung by protests against the nuclear power programme across the country post Fukushima in March last year,the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) initiated a massive and deliberate campaign last year to win public support and confidence. Accordingly,says NPCIL,its outreach activities,which includes visits to plant sites,has been stepped up 10-fold with the youth as its primary target.
For instance,if programmes and lectures on nuclear power at educational institutions were earlier limited to once a month,it has gone up to 10 per month after Fukushima. Data collated by the NPCIL shows that in the last 10 months,its representatives have gone to 116 educational institutions across the country. One glance at the figures reveal that with protests refusing to die down at upcoming plant sites in Koodankulam and Jaitapur,the activities have been significantly stepped up in the past four-five months.
In January 2012,23 lectures have been organised at schools and colleges,and 36 in December 2011. It covers institutions located in states or areas where the nuclear power plants are operating. The lectures are addressed to groups ranging from 25 to 3,000. The institutes include IIT-Bombay,IIT-Patna,IIT-Madras,St Holy Academy (Hisar),Christ College (Bangalore),St Joseph Engineering College (Chennai),Government PTC College (Tapi) Government Engineering College (Jabalpur),DY Patil University (Kolhapur),Pune Government Engineering College,Queens Convent College (Lucknow).
The programmes at educational institutions as well as visits to nuclear power plants have gone up 10-fold in the past one year. This was meant to create awareness among people about the nuclear power programme and the safety standards maintained by us in light of Fukushima and subsequent apprehensions in peoples minds, said Ranjit Kakde,general manager (corporate communications),NPCIL.
Similarly,75 site visits have been facilitated from September 2011 to January 2012. The numbers,say experts,stand out simply because such regular visits were not a practice earlier. Such enthusiasm on the part of the nuclear fraternity to readily facilitate visits was unheard of prior to the Fukushima disaster. Lack of initiatives to reach out to the people is one of the reasons why protests or resistance to nuclear power programme have escalated so much. The apprehensions about the safety of nuclear power have highlighted the urgent need for Indias nuclear establishment to connect with the common man, said a senior academician. It includes visits to atomic power sites at Tarapur,Kakrapar,Kaiga,and others. The groups were diverse,including students,CISF personnel,Navy doctors,families,scientists,teachers and even government officials.
The nuclear establishment has also taken recourse to books and publications to woo people and clear misconceptions. These are printed in Hindi,English,Marathi,Kannada,Telugu,Tamil and Gujarati.