Declare coastal nuclear sites 'critically vulnerable': Swaminathan

Last Updated: Sat, Apr 09, 2011 14:10 hrs

Mumbai, April 9 (IANS) India must learn from the tragedy in Japan and declare coastal areas where nuclear power reactors are located as 'critically vulnerable' under the Coastal Regulation Zone Act, eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan said Saturday.

The recent triple tragedy in Japan of earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear disaster had many lessons for a country like India, said Swaminathan, a Rajya Sabha Member.

'There is now public concern about the safety of nuclear power plants located along the coast such as Kalpakkam and Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. Besides appropriate steps in reactor design and engineering, we should promote bio-shields comprising mangrove and non-mangrove species in coastal areas where nuclear power plants are located,' he said.

For achieving this purpose, he urged such areas be declared 'critically vulnerable CRZ-1'.

In his address at the 10th convocation of the Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Swaminathan said Japan's tragedy has taught us to explore ways of living in harmony with nature rather than science attempting to overpower it.

Advocating sustainable development, Swaminathan said that if we do not take the environment into account, problems are bound to crop up.

Citing the instances of extreme weather changes like the recent floods in Australia, drought in China, climate change off Bolivian coast, which were bound to happen more frequently, he said India needed to prepare climate change risk management strategies.

Swaminathan said the guidelines of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) were more generic and needed to be more local and specific in nature.

'If we need to preserve environment, then communities depending on it must also looked after. I urge the CIFE to harness the use of mobile technologies for small fisherman and impart training in all stages of value-chain from capture to consumption of fish,' he said.

Swaminathan also took the opportunity to call for a review of the regulatory mechanism for biotechnology and nuclear technology so that they could be truly autonomous.

'We need an autonomous, professionally led National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority with the precautionary principle as the bottom line for regulatory policies. This only can inspire public, political, professional and media confidence,' he said.

Atomic Energy Commission's former chairman Anil Kakodkar, who was also present, said that as chairman of the Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Mission, he looked to working with CIFE on various technologies.

Two eminent scientists - K.V. Devaraj, former vice chancellor of University of Agricultural Sciences at Bangalore, and T.J. Pandian, former national professor, Indian Council of Agricultural Research at New Delhi - were at the convocation conferred with D.Sc. (Honoris causa) for their outstanding contribution in fisheries sector.

Besides, a total of 86 Masters in fisheries sciences and 29 Ph.D. students were awarded degrees in different disciplines of fisheries science by CIFE director W.S. Lakra.

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