Nuclear power is an idea whose bright future is already behind it. The dream of a source of electricity which would be clean, safe and ‘too cheap to meter’ has turned into a nightmare. Windscale, Kshtym, Brown’s Ferry, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl… are just the milestones of an unending series which have made words like ‘meltdown’ and ‘China syndrome’ part of the common vocabulary. No wonder the nuclear enterprise is in retreat in all its strongholds. This situation poses a special danger, for, like the legendary Rajput soldier of yore, who fought on even when beheaded, it is still capable of inflicting great deal of crippling damage. All of us in the third world are specially vulnerable because of the tendency on part of the industrialised nations to export their dangerous and polluting technologies to us.
The time is thus ripe for the nuclear debate in India to raise itself from the level of trading insults to that of a true scientific enquiry. The basic minimum precondition for this is the free availability of information. These issues which have hidden behind the cloak of being highly technical and of being accessible only to experts need to become the province of every citizen wishing to be informed about them. The basic issues like those of freedom, equity, social justice, vulnerability, bureaucratized high technology etc. which confront us in all other facets of ‘development’. Through the columns of this magazine we wish to challenge both the wisdom and the necessity of the nuclear enterprise and also its claim of being a solution to our energy problems.
This bulletin is addressed firstly to the growing number of activists who are committed to opposing the nuclear programme. We seek to provide correct and factual information so that their arguments acquire a firm foundation. We also hope to foster a feeling of solidarity with the worldwide antinuclear movement. Secondly, the bulletin is addressed to the many people who, though apprehensive about the present nuclear dangers are intimidated by the vast body and seeming complexity of the literature and also by the ‘eminence’ of pronuclear advocates. Thirdly it is addressed to people engaged in the nuclear enterprise as a challenge to them to justify their existence. We believe that this debate will not end till either side has convinced the other of the truth of their position.
To fulfill our aims we intend to have sections devoted to:
- New developments in the field of nuclear energy
- News about protest movements against nuclear energy both at home and abroad
- In-depth articles on special topics for activists’ education
- Comparative analysis with alternatives
- The human cost.
It is our hope that this bulletin becomes part of a far wider ongoing debate about various ethical and social issues raised by the process of ‘development” which Gandhi had aptly characterised as the ‘satanic civilisation’.