By Ranjit Devraj, InsideClimate News
NEW DELHI, India—When India’s central government passed the long-delayed Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement in 2008 and implemented plans to add 40 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020—10 times its current capacity—it certainly didn’t foresee what would happen next. A rare grassroots uprising led by farmers and fisherman took shape in three major states to block atomic megaprojects that locals say would threaten their traditional livelihoods.
Nor did national leaders expect India’s intelligentsia—led by retired judges, military leaders, scientists, bureaucrats and academics—to get behind the farmers and fishers and build up such a wall of resistance that some fear it could scuttle billion-dollar deals to import reactors and quash several nuclear projects.
But that’s what has happened. Their grievances have now made their way to India’s Supreme Court, which is considering a petition by opponents to put a stay on nuclear construction until safety reviews of existing plants and those planned along the peninsular coastline are completed.
If the court sides with petitioners it could drive away crucial foreign investment in the rapidly growing nuclear program, local experts say.