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Obama’s N-mission to India

Updated Jan 31, 2015 10:05am

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The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.
The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

LAST Monday, Pakistanis watched glumly as President Barack Obama, the chief guest at India’s annual Republic Day celebrations, took in a grand display of Indian military hardware, ornate floats, and marching bands. Subsequently, many commentaries have concentrated on the so-called “breakthrough understanding” that overcomes a long-standing obstacle preventing India’s purchase of nuclear reactors and fuel from the United States. Others have revolved around Pakistan’s grievance about being denied a similar nuclear deal. Both sets of commentaries have missed essential points.

Sibling rivalry means, of course, that Pakistan stands miffed. But one must regretfully acknowledge that Pakistan’s multiple internal crises have reduced the country’s global status, together with the attention paid to it by world leaders. Moreover Pakistan’s primitive agro-textile economy cannot significantly benefit from cooperation with the US in high-technology, and our workforce has little to offer by way of education and skills. And, while Pakistan may prefer to forget the sale of critical nuclear technology and information by A.Q. Khan and his associates, many countries remember that only too well.

But India has not emerged a winner either. Although Obama’s visit has sent India’s leadership into raptures, the loosening of constraints upon US-based reactor companies, which deal with a technology that carries irreducible dangers, has ominous implications. India knows well the horror of one kind of foreign-provided technology that went rogue. In 1984 the leakage of cyanide gas at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal killed over 5,200 people and left thousands with permanent disabilities. This was a chemical catastrophe, but a nuclear one can be far more destructive.


Whereas India has put important conditions on reactor vendors, Pakistan has put absolutely none.


Preventing a nuclear Bhopal has long obsessed India’s civil society. Haunted by the images of the nuclear accident in 2011 in Fukushima, Japan, local communities in Tamil Nadu in southern India launched massive and sustained protests against the effort to start up the large Russian-supplied reactor at Koodankulam. The protests were met with police violence and mass arrests on trumped-up charges.

The Fukushima accident also served to spur Indian civil society and local community protests against plans to build an American-supplied nuclear reactor in Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi’s home state, and a French-supplied reactor to be set up at Jaitapur, near Mumbai. A plan to build several Russian reactors at a site in Haripur in West Bengal was scrapped after the state government rejected it. A partial indemnity clause was inserted into government regulations to hold nuclear reactor manufacturers responsible for damages. This has scared off American reactor suppliers. And so, in spite of the 2008 nuclear agreement, no new foreign reactor deal has actually gone forward.

It is in this context that one must see the recent US-India “breakthrough”. This involves using Indian public money to shield US corporations from liabilities in the event of a disaster involving an American-supplied reactor. The liability has been capped at a mere $200 million — 40 times less than the limit set in the US! Expectedly, a moribund US nuclear industry, long in the doldrums, has applauded the announced softening. It hopes to make up for lack of domestic sales. For 25 years, no new nuclear reactor was built in the US. Meanwhile, making electricity using natural gas is proving to be so much cheaper that some already operating nuclear reactors in the US are being shut down.

Pakistan must note these developments. Reactor manufacturers everywhere want to sell their products and make money first, and worry about dangers second. Profit-seeking Chinese are no different from profit-seeking Americans. Exporting overseas for the first time, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is currently engaged in building two reactors in Karachi, worth $4.8 billion apiece, on a turnkey basis. A soft Chinese loan of $6.5bn smoothed the way. Unsurprisingly the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) which will operate the reactors, sees not the slightest danger.

But let the truth be told: in Karachi, the world’s biggest nuclear disaster may be in the making. The reactors to be built in Karachi are a Chinese design that has not yet been built or tested anywhere, not even in China. They are to be sited in a city of 20 million which is also the world’s fastest growing and most chaotic megalopolis. Evacuating Karachi in the event of a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster is inconceivable.

The story gets still worse. Whereas India has put important conditions on reactor vendors, Pakistan has put absolutely none. It has not insisted upon any kind of legal liability for CNNC in case of an accident. Even basic safety requirements have been waived. When challenged in the Sindh High Court by a group of worried citizens who subsequently won a temporary stay, the government — through the PAEC — was forced to admit it had violated the law by not holding a public hearing on the environmental impact assessment of the Karachi reactors project. The court has ordered a new assessment next month, this time with public participation.

Nuclear electricity belongs to the 20th century, not the 21st. Apart from being expensive and potentially dangerous, the earliest that the Karachi reactors can start producing electricity is by 2020 or 2021. On the other hand, there are alternative power sources that could be brought on-line much before then, and much more cheaply. The developed world is already enjoying the Renewables Revolution, triggered by advances in photovoltaic technology, efficient windmills, and smart grids.

Wholly missed by Pakistani commentators was the positive part of Obama’s promise: he offered American assistance to help meet India’s goal of having solar capacity of 100,000 MW by the year 2022. This is 45 times the electrical capacity of the two Karachi nuclear reactors! If India can build this much solar capacity in a few years, why can’t Pakistan? Let us by all means ask China, and the United States, and other countries for help. As Germany is showing so brilliantly, renewables like solar and wind — not nuclear — can safely and effectively meet a nation’s energy needs.

The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2015

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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (215) Closed



INDIAN Jan 31, 2015 01:29am

This what I called RATIONAL THINKING. Absolutely sound arguments. Pros and cons included. Forward looking thinking and decisive ending. Beautiful article, You won my heart professor.

Yasir Jan 31, 2015 01:41am

Sir that useless environmental litigation is inducing a delay in curbing energy crisis. Do you really think that coal/oil power projects are environmental friendly?. Even large hydro dams have their impact on environment. Compared to other alternatives nuclear option is the most env friendly.

Amin Amdani Jan 31, 2015 01:52am

Pervez Hoodbhoy, man you are the best. Very sensible article and advice.

Hassan Jan 31, 2015 02:00am

As usual, a brilliant column. Please write in Urdu media, so your message gets to the common man.

Rakesh Jan 31, 2015 02:18am

Probably the best article I have read on the nuclear deal.. Drives home the point effectively.. Hope we understand and drive more towards renewable energy given that both countries have plenty of sunshine..

BRR Jan 31, 2015 02:21am

Well written. Now a combination of nuclear and renewable sources is essential in the short term, but the nuclear power plants are likely to get into trouble sometime, and the fuel rods have to be kept cool under water for thousands of hears - otherwise they will just melt down, cause a major environmental disaster, etc. Very dangerous to play with nuclear energy, unless one is ready to take care of spent fuel and rods for ages, and keep them away from the Taliban type Islamic warriors.

Will Jan 31, 2015 02:21am

Always a pleasure to read Dr. Hoodbhoy's thoughts. He demonstrates all the elements of good expository writing, critical thinking, and argumentation. If more people from India and Pakistan were taught, from childhood, to think clearly, to listen to one another with respect, and to debate constructively, most of the problems would go away. I hope that at least in India, Modiji will make this happen at the elementary school level

Mohsin Jan 31, 2015 02:41am

Thanks for bringing the lax Karachi nuclear deal to light... Renewables can be much more affordable IFF a national industrial effort is made to re-gear legacy industry capacity to switch over to solar/wind/geothermal capacities. This requires a national level commitment.

someone_else Jan 31, 2015 02:48am

I appreciate Dr. Hoodbhoy for his concern raised for nuclear plan safety in India and its impact on people.However, to remain as a growing economy, nuclear energy is the need for India. The hydro electrical energy can not fulfill India's ever growing demand. Coal plants have their own issue of carbon emission for which if not now then few years later, US/Europe would start squeezing India. It is necessary for India to have these plants. The two latest plants in southern India are producing power at cost of 3.5 to 4 INR per KW. Solar energy is not this cheap as yet. The latest pipeline project of solar power in MP in India is bidding for 6.5 INR/Unit and this cheapest so far. India is also working on Thorium based nuclear power plants which would be less risky, easy to operate plants where thorium is not just a better environmental choice but also abundant in India.In nutshell, nuclear energy is there to stay in India.

Rizwan Jan 31, 2015 03:09am

I love the insights. Very thought provoking! We must promote an educated dialog around the pros and cons of our energy alternatives. I would like to see statistics on what are the most environmentally friendly and cost effective options for us?

Roger Jan 31, 2015 03:11am

Great article !! But professor, can renewables really scale up to meet the energy requirements ? And what would be the cost benefit analysis. Curious to know. Would love to see that from you in another article

tito basu Jan 31, 2015 03:17am

Brilliant article. Most sensible response to the nuclear deal I have seen so far. And I am both Indian and American as well as choking on the pseudo-bonhomie of NamObama.

Mohan Jan 31, 2015 03:24am

Dead on! The article is exactly how people everywhere must think. Germany is moving away from nuclear energy- everywhere else they are moving away because the dangers far outweigh short term benefits.

jogi Jan 31, 2015 03:37am

Solar power is competing with coal and Pakistan is burning oil to get power.China their friend has the solar panels

Rishabh Jain Jan 31, 2015 03:49am

I am really jealous of Pakistan for having you.

I do not really believe in the India - a superpower hogwash, we actually have a long way to go. We need to analyze every step vis-a-vis policy issues and also take care of our people, not of big powers or companies, which is something that needs to be continually addressed for us to become a strong (rather than powerful) nation.

It's not like people haven't talked about the perils of nuclear energy or nuclear weaponry. But, the way you do it, any layman can make the sense of it. Kudos!

Harmony Jan 31, 2015 04:55am

@Yasir - Are you forgetting leakage of cyanide gas at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal which of course was non-nuclear. Whereas Chernobyl like accidents can be far worse.

Harmony Jan 31, 2015 05:05am

"The reactors [nuclear] to be built in Karachi are a Chinese design that has not yet been built or tested anywhere, not even in China". This is extremely worrying. Let's get rid of it along with these incompetent rulers.

Ravindra Sharma Jan 31, 2015 05:10am

Brilliant ideas and marvelous thinking . Keep it up sir spreading sane voices . Thank You for brilliant writing .

From India Jan 31, 2015 05:33am

Thanks Professor for a rational and balanced analysis. It is a pleasure reading your articles.

Imtiaz Jan 31, 2015 05:44am

@Harmony No needs to worry if you know how many of Jinns, shaikhs, Pirs etc protect Pakistan from Industrial disasters and military threats. .

Melamine Jan 31, 2015 05:55am

Chinese Hong Mercantile class is the worst.

Even China sent a woman and her accomplices to the FIRING squad for mixing MELAMINE in baby powder milk.

Kumar Jan 31, 2015 06:18am

Renewables are too expensive for nations like India and Pakistan. Even today, the best options are hydroelectric and thermal power generation. India's nuclear agreement does not mean that there will be nuclear power plants all over the country.

Malik Jan 31, 2015 06:21am

How India deals with its concern should be none of our concern. We have been fixated unnecessarily...its time to move on.

Omar Khayyam Jan 31, 2015 07:16am

Pervez Sahib, you are easily one of the most brilliant commentators I have ever read. If people in South Asia would just think like you do, and use their heads, the whole region would be more advanced than the developed countries. It is such a shame that you do not advise the governments of South Asia on scientific policy, buying nuclear junk, backward education, etc. It was Oskar Lange, the great Polish economist, statistician and mathematician who wrote that a people who do not use their own resources are condemned to be underdeveloped. You, sir, are a premium resource for our region, including of course India and Pakistan. Please take great care of yourself, as I am sure our poor region does not have many of your quality and absolute respect for Truth. And please keep your thoughts coming through Dawn.

Barry Jan 31, 2015 07:16am

You won my heart as well Prof

At last some critical thinking in Pakistan. I see this very rarely in your country . It has also made me think that Inda should be looking for gas generators instead of n reactors

sridhar Jan 31, 2015 07:36am

I do not agree with Professor Hoodhbhoy when he says "Nuclear electricity belongs to the 20th century, not the 21st.". http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/country-profiles/countries-T-Z/USA--Nuclear-Power/ (The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. The country's 100 nuclear reactors produced 798 billion kWh in 2014, over 19% of total electrical output. There are now 99 units operable (98.7 GWe) and five under construction.) Gas has now become a cheaper option but nuclear energy can supply a large portion (not all) of energy. Energy resource in a nation like India has to be diverse. Modi is going in a big way for solar, wind energy. Nuclear energy right now supplies only 2% of energy needed in India (in France it is 70%). Nuclear reactors have been around in US, France for a long time. We did not hear of any problems. The more worrisome aspect is what China is doing with unproven technology in Karachi. Because civil society in Pakistan is weak, there has been no debate on the nuclear reactor coming up in Karachi.

Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that six new units may come on line by 2020, four of those resulting from 16 licence applications made since mid-2007 to build 24 new nuclear reactors.)

sridhar Jan 31, 2015 07:38am

When Professor Hoodhbhoy says nuclear energy belong to 20th century, he should offer an alternative

sanjay Jan 31, 2015 08:20am

From the article: " ..he offered American assistance to help meet India’s goal of having solar capacity of 100,000 MW by the year 2022. .."

A critical piece of info missed by Indian as well as foreign observers of the trip. Very doable too. Hope Modi puts his energy (pun intended!) into making it happen.

AJ Jan 31, 2015 08:23am

Well said Mr Hoodbhoy. You are a gem.

Solar energy becomes economical when you pump it straight into the grid without costly storage devices such as batteries. (An alternative is to pump water into storage tanks which is then used to drive turbines, etc. But this is inefficient). You still need some conventional sources to feed the grid at night. Coal is unpleasant. That leaves nuclear with its inherent dangers and toxic waste. So clearly, the emphasis should be on solar and hydro and wind with a very small portion coming from nuclear/coal/oil.

Sundaram KS Jan 31, 2015 08:43am

Agree with this article whole heartedly. Once in a while comes a well balanced article from the Pakistani media.

Black Sabbath Jan 31, 2015 08:43am

Well written article on the nuclear deal between US & India. I must say, earlier this deal seemed like a no brainier to me but now I'm having second thoughts about it. Mr. Hoodbhoy has my respect & I appreciate his opinion on this matter.

Rabia Jan 31, 2015 08:49am

this may be a brilliant article or a rationally thought out one but what it says is truly scary. A nuclear disaster in Karachi does not bear thinking. After recent examples of pathetic management in the power sector who wants to possess a nuclear power plant here? Especially an untried one

kanakasabhai Jan 31, 2015 08:51am

The author is a much learned person admired all over esp. in India and he is absolutely right. But today's reactors have learned the lesson from Japan and are much more advanced.There are several mechanisms to shut down the plant. The Kudamkulam plants of the Russians have 1000 MW each and the first one has already proved by generating 1000 MW power at Rs.4.50 ( just 7 US cents ) and the second one is being commissioned.Let us also not forget that the USSR had Chernobyl, the US had Long Island and Japan had Fukushima but others had none inclg. Pakistan and India. With a lot of conditions and care, nuclear energy is one good option - Look at France.

Sunil Jan 31, 2015 09:01am

India has almost 10 nuclear reactors to supply electricity, but North East states, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalya, Tripura, still there is load shedding with power cut in the evening 9.00 pm, comes back in the morning 7.00 am, a daily affair.

Javed Jan 31, 2015 09:18am

Kudos Sir. And a small point I like to add is wind and solar installations can become functional within a period 8-12 months thereby giving immediate relief.

Siraj Ahmed Jan 31, 2015 09:21am

Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy is not a 'Pakistani' he is a world citizen. He thinks logically in an unbiased way. This article is not your typical 'Pakistani' written article. This is a warning to all supporters of Nuclear Industry. One thing he missed is that when a huge country like India, plans for energy, it must consider a mix of all sources- Hydro, Thermal, Nuclear, Solar, Wind etc. Also, you will have to see the US-India nuclear accord in the light of Chinese nuclear industry. India has stopped looking at Pakistan for anything it does. These two points were missing in this article.

Gaurav Arya Jan 31, 2015 09:32am

Very balanced article. Weighs the pros and cons perfectly. The author writes with knowledge and authority.

Sivaram Pochiraju Jan 31, 2015 09:45am

Very well written, balanced and sensible article. The only problem with the solar energy is its prohibitive cost other than being seasonal like Hydro. Solar power generation will be immensely useful to Indians and Pakistanis along with the wind power generation provided the end cost is made within the reach of the consumers. In order this to happen, the powers that be in both countries should put in sincere and dedicated efforts, which is most unlikely.

Dubya Jan 31, 2015 09:47am

Brilliant as usual !!! Respect .. respect ...

Keti Zilgish Jan 31, 2015 10:13am

What I would like to know is that besides accidents like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and others in US and elsewhere I am not presently aware off, what are the other reasons for not harnessing nuclear energy for electricity generation as compared to solar energy and wind power, for example, both of which will not have the problem of disposal of nuclear waste? I understand that the adverse environmental impacts of energy generation in the absence of an accident are not being discussed in this article.

B. Patel. U.S.A. Jan 31, 2015 10:16am

As usual good analysis by Mr. Hoodbhoy, providing valuable insight. I do not have much knowledge about nuclear power plants in India or Pakistan. However we can not blindly rule out nuclear energy. France gets 39% of energy from nuclear sources and has the best safety record. Ideas employed by France should be investigated. Energy starved South Asian countries can not afford to ignore nuclear energy.

ABhay Jan 31, 2015 10:21am

One of the most studied, intelligent and rational person i have come across.. His arguments do not have bias, go to the root of the problem and unlike other authors almost never end with pessimism.. He identifies the problem and offers solutions.. Kudos.. May his tribe increase.

Dwaraka nath Jan 31, 2015 10:23am

Thanks to Dawn and sir pervez Hoodbhoy for beautiful article .Solar and wind energies are Eco friendly and the Gujarat govt are going to set up solar panels all over the Narmada main canal which is biggest canal in India .solar panels per km length can produce 1 MW of electricity besides lakhs of liters can be saved from evaporation losses .further more there will be no land acquisition cost

KN Jan 31, 2015 10:26am

Sanity, Clarity and Honesty. How refreshing !

ram Jan 31, 2015 10:39am

Beautiful article,you are right sir but whether in pak or india no body want to listen. even what i think china and usa want to sell their even dirt and dust.

ram Jan 31, 2015 10:40am

you are dimond of asia .. very positive and real thinking . thanx for don

irad Jan 31, 2015 10:40am

So refreshing & enlightening to read crystal clear - well laid out arguments. Brilliantly done Sir, hope Indian papers will publish unabridged version of this superb piece of writing.

Pawan_saini Jan 31, 2015 10:42am

Mr. Hoodbhoy is himself a nuclear physics scholar. His arguments about nuclear risks and benefits must be considered seriously.

srinath Jan 31, 2015 10:46am

well said!!

Aziz Jan 31, 2015 10:50am

Appreciate and thank you for well postulated assumptions. However, I do not see the key role of PNRB comes into play when dealing in the procurement of Nuclear Reactors cycle.

, I hope they are also looking into considering more safer and modular technology like Westinghouse AP100 PWR series of reactors.

Rhea Jan 31, 2015 10:52am

As always, one sane article, one objective analysis, one rational discourse, one dispassionate approach, and eminently logical conclusions, even if one may disagree with some of them.

javed Jan 31, 2015 10:54am

Solar power is not a reliable source of energy. It can supplement the primary sources such as nuclear and coal but we cannot rely solely on solar for continuous supply of power. There is no electricity from solar during night and on cloudy days. Same with the hydro power. Power generation goes down during low flow season. If we are looking for the year round uninterrupted supply of power then the best options are nuclear and coal.

Cyrus Ho Jan 31, 2015 10:57am

Reactor venders?

I think we mean the fruit of 300 years of the industrial revolution. A revolution, like it or not India was lucky to share with the British Empire (where your own leaders, and those of India were educated).

Sohela Jan 31, 2015 11:04am

Brilliantly put in an easy to understand language without going into hyperbole unlike 99% of the Pakistani commentators. India is walking a delicate balance while planing its energy strategy. Heartening is the fact that it is going big way forward on Solar energy. This is the future.

Nemo the no one Jan 31, 2015 11:05am

There is wide misconception about India's republic day parade which take place 26th January every year.India’s last annual Republic Day celebrations, took in a grand display of Indian military hardware, ornate floats, and marching bands. The fact is that the parade is not for showing any military might to other county. Its about, one may say , actually birth day celebration of India's Constitution and about the military hardware that is only about showing determination of country's strength to protect its Sovereign nature.

Cyrus Ho Jan 31, 2015 11:08am

@Yasir

Pakistan or China could lead the world in the development of hydrogen plants, thus leading the world in clean energy. Hydrogen plants can power electrical plants and all surface vehicles can be run on hydrogen gas. Pakistan could even produce cars that could a segment of automotive sales worldwide.

Pakistan could reach for the stars because the blue prints are already on the drawing board (Scientific American, May 1973).

While India is vesting itself in nuclear power Pakistan could (with financing) make the Great Leap Forward. Hydrogen plants do not pollute even if they are destroyed by earthquakes or lightning strikes or terrorists; and even then they can have been sold casualty insurance from Lloyds of London.

ashok kumar lal Jan 31, 2015 11:14am

hydro electric,coal,oil,nuclear and the wind and solar.Problem with last two is they are not manually controlled, as wind and sunlight are independent in nature, hence they can only be supplement to main source.Germany has saturated power use and population is falling.Developing countries like India need to utilise all available sources.Some risks has to be taken.

Askari Jan 31, 2015 11:21am

Tremendous. If it were up to me I would scrap the nuclear deal and go for the alternatives pointed out by the writer.

Sampath Jan 31, 2015 11:21am

Thanks Mr. Hoodboy for a practical matter of fact analysis. Any declaration by the Indian attorney general limiting the US liabilities can be struck down by our courts in the absence of a new law which cannot be passed for another few years. This means that the deal has been pushed aside by both India and USA in the interests of other newer trade options like we push out a broken tractor trailer from the highway so normal traffic can resume. The Americans were angry that they did not get the payoff from India for having done some heavy lifting for the nuclear waiver. In any case Germany is already helping the world by generating 30% of its energy needs with solar and wind power in the process finetuning the technology and reducing the cost of generation.

Sami Jan 31, 2015 11:22am

@javed Nuclear reactors need to be closed from 3-6 months every year. They cannot work round the year. They are also not a good source of energy. Hydro & hydel are the best options for a country like Pakistan.

shamain Jan 31, 2015 11:26am

@javed yes and pollution by coal cannot be overlooked. Btw article was more about glorification of endia. Secondly, the setting up of new nuclear reactors in endia ,ihope doesnt mean more trouble for adivasis and snatchingof their lands by capitalists. Solar power generation can be practical with the countries like usa where power energy crisis re already little close to none

Aman Rishu Jan 31, 2015 11:27am

A great article from an educated man

raghu Jan 31, 2015 11:31am

good one dude....keep going.

Raghu

abhijeet Jan 31, 2015 11:32am

Bang on target , but what i think is that the nuclear deal is just a ruse to get Indo-US joint cooperation on various sectors especially defence technologies . It is a known fact that as far as reactors are concerned India only trusts Russia and that Pm Modi has kept a target of achieving 100000 MW of electricity just from solar power by 2022 and another 500000 MW of electricity from Thermal coal power in 10 to 15 years so i don't think we Indians require a lot of Nuclear power.

riaz khan Jan 31, 2015 11:32am

Dr sahab , one of your best articles , informative and educating for common person. Solar energy without using batteries pumped into grids, along with aligning our electricity consuming industry and other power intensive usage according to solar energy steaming little altering the ways of live would definitely ensure a better safer future. The one's who are opting for outdated technology as Hoodbhoy elaborates are in fact choosing to hinder the breakthrough and advancement in alternate energy discourse. Only ifconcuos scientists had more say in decision making the world would have been a much better place to live.

G.Sharma Jan 31, 2015 11:33am

The highly learned author is mistaken in describing "sibling rivalry". For most Indians, Pakistan is a distant country at heart but geographical neighbor. India does not consider Pakistan a rival. It is Pakistan which calls India rival for its survival.

Mian Shahid Mehmood Jan 31, 2015 11:37am

Our economy genuine is in need of development of energy sector, whereas our leadership is money hungry. In the hunt for kickbacks they will compromise everything even the basic security of its people. This is the reason, our leadership is venturing to purchase and install in Pakistan the outdated technology based on nuclear fission. Why they are not going for solar energy which is going to be in vogue in the 21st century is not a secret, there are less lucrative kickbacks in this sector, so our leadership is not keen for this sector.

Patriotic Indian Jan 31, 2015 11:49am

Very well written article, great job Dr. Perez Hoodbhoy!

We indians know that you are a bright light of rationality in Pak.

Prabodh Jan 31, 2015 11:52am

U r a great analyst sir (Y) I watch a lot of videos of yours on youtube. You always think positive and good for humanity. I hope to see more such people in Pakistan.I respect you.

Ahmer Jan 31, 2015 11:52am

Sindh has a very high potential for both solar and wind energy. It does not need any nuclear energy at all.

Syed Ali Jan 31, 2015 12:08pm

One call from Altaf hossain shuts down mega city of Karachi, Why is MQM and Altaf silent on this life and death issue

Fiz Jan 31, 2015 12:10pm

What a clear headed, rational thinking, guiding us the path of development. I wonder why don't we consult such people when we are making mega decisions? But then thinking requires brain!

Abdul raheem Jan 31, 2015 12:23pm

Karachi reactors are desperate need to keep our soli nuclear development programme.To add to more information no need to go for solar instead we can ask saudi new king to pump more oil for using PowerPlant. We can also ask Iran to give gas so that we use for running current generation.

Tanu Jan 31, 2015 12:28pm

A rare gem of pakistan . May your tribe increase sir!

joe Jan 31, 2015 12:33pm

thumbs up .... good article ....

SRIKANTH Jan 31, 2015 12:38pm

Good, thought provoking article - I thin people like you should be in descision making bodies of pakistan.

Neo.Pro Jan 31, 2015 12:40pm

Good read, there are currently three nuclear power plants operating in Pakistan. The Chashma nuclear complex has 2x300 MW in operations, plus the 125 MW Kanupp, near Karachi. Two more at Chashma will be commissioned(2x300) in 2016, and another one (1000Mw) planned as future expansion. The mentioned 2x1100 MW nuclear power plants are in addition to the above mentioned plants. I am against the plants close to a mega city like Karachi, need to be moved further west, at least 100 Km from Karachi.

S.A.Sampath Jan 31, 2015 12:43pm

Being a power engineer, I don't subscribe to dangers of Nuclear energy if you look at accident statistics vs. installed capacity in the world of thermal power vs. nuclear power. I don't know as to how many in Pakistan noted a unique solar power installation in Gujarat. Solar panels are installed over irrigation canals covering the canal with two fold advantage. No land cost. water evaporation is reduced plus energy!!

Selvakumar K Tamilnadu Jan 31, 2015 12:44pm

Master piece professor. Very much insightful and rational.

VINOD Jan 31, 2015 12:45pm

An article based on steel sharp logic and reason. It has analysed the entire scene in an easy manner and brought the salient point in the grasp of common man. Dear writer my Saute to you. Dear Chief Editor of Dawn we appreciate your efforts to place always such analytic article by very sound and knowledgeable writers. Regards.

ashok Jan 31, 2015 12:45pm

Excellent article, very concise thinking by a highly erudite man.

ali Jan 31, 2015 12:46pm

Pakistan is so much obsessed with India that we have completely forgotten about our own nuclear reactors. Being a Karachi resident myself, it is dreadful to read that our own government has not put any safeguard agreements for the Chinese. Wake up Pakistan. India is charting its own course. let us have a vision and stop copying India in whatever it does. An eye opener of an article.

VINOD Jan 31, 2015 12:46pm

@Hassan I fully support your request.

Pramod Jan 31, 2015 12:52pm

That was very nice, balanced and most unbiased article i have read in any Pakistani newspaper about US-India Nuclear deal. Covered both positive and negative side of Nuclear deal very well,

Most other article and news were looking like either they are fuming with jealousy and were trying to console themselves and others like them or they are writing something because they have to write something against India.

Saif Jan 31, 2015 12:59pm

Nice article as always from Professor !

Syed Murtuza Hasan Jan 31, 2015 01:00pm

I am an Indian...but the article is very Unbiased & thought provoking...& it is in the interest of aam aadmi....

AdHawk Jan 31, 2015 01:03pm

Here's an idea. Locate the nuclear reactors on the moon and beam the power down to earth over lasers. Thus, no leakage and waste dispodal hazards. You're welcome.

Akhthar Jan 31, 2015 01:05pm

Excellent Article. I wish to add that the Nuclear Suppliers want to dump their Nuclear Equipment on 3rd world countries. Japan, with all the advanced technological prowess hasn`t completely capped the fukushima nuclear reactor even now after the Tsunami. I doubt either China, or India or Pakistan has such capabilities.

Neo.Pro Jan 31, 2015 01:12pm

Do people support the clean/unclean nuclear energy is important. yes, no doubt great read...as expected from Hoodbhoy, no mention of it in the comments so far save a few. To be or not to be is the question. Has this article helped in opinion making, creating awareness and need for renewable clean energy, no nuclear Diktat, is what matters

Keti Zilgish Jan 31, 2015 01:20pm

@Imtiaz that is a very nice comment concerning Harmony's comment.

Manjeet kocchar Jan 31, 2015 01:20pm

Professor sahab my due regards very good analysis beautifully presented I have witnessed the Bhopal tragedy. 2nd generation are being born deformed deaf dumb I have seen the arrogance of the Americans and their sheer disregard for the lives in third world. In case of any nuclear accident we may not need electricity for another 100 yrs

Harmony Jan 31, 2015 01:28pm

@Kumar - " India's nuclear agreement does not mean that there will be nuclear power plants all over the country". But just one disaster can do huge damage.

Harmony Jan 31, 2015 01:32pm

@sridhar - "...he should offer an alternative". He did. Just read slowly.

Sarat Jan 31, 2015 01:32pm

I fully agree with this author. Vary authentic fellow. I also read another article earlier. Good observation that nuclear energy belonged to 20th century not 21st.

Harmony Jan 31, 2015 01:43pm

@Sivaram Pochiraju - "problem with the solar energy is its prohibitive cost". When in Greece, I noticed solar panels everywhere on rooftops, in a country on the brink of bankruptcy. So, can't be that expensive if supported by government backed schemes.

sid Jan 31, 2015 01:43pm

well said...but remember one thing India will not go for more nuclear reactors....the govt has target of just 22000MW by 2022 and 1000000MW for solar energy with US....one most important advantage would be ,breakthrough in this deal will lead to India accptence in other organization that has long run strategic advantages....

Anil mumbai Jan 31, 2015 01:52pm

Our country also want journalist like hasan nisar parvez hoodbhoy najam sethi. if they write for indian society obviously it will be discussion topic for us. Jai Hind jai pakistan.

Rashid Sultan Jan 31, 2015 01:56pm

@Hassan Can all the "common men (& women)" read Urdu? I doubt it. Even if they could would they have comprehension of the dangers in a nuclear disaster? They will go along with whatever the riyasat imposes on them.

Vectra Jan 31, 2015 01:57pm

World's Top 5 Largest Wind Power producers in 2015 China 96GW,US 64.2GW,Germany 38GW,Spain 24GW and India 22.5 GW.India plans to add 10GW of wind power to grid each year adding 70-80GW to existing 22.5 GW making a total of 100GW.

Manjeet kocchar Jan 31, 2015 02:11pm

Professor you are simply great I wish such analytical writers for my country

majid udhi Jan 31, 2015 02:12pm

govt must pay attention to Mr. hoodbhai, such an honest person, but govt neither listen nor appoint him on Nuclear Committee, had such qualified persons are on right place, then govt or Pakistan as a whole would not hv ashmed in the eyes of the world v/s India, who is in process of creating super power in Asia bec of China , america cannot tolerate China, rather it befitting, if peace prevail in this world rather than selling of American Defenc and Offce Military Equipment to India who sits of US$300 bn surplus, ready to spend, Pakistan reserve is wholly borrowed, even Pakistan Electricity Consumers are charged fr defaulters on Electricity Bills non-payment plus leakage (theft, even identified elite of politicians, trade & Industrialists, and other hoodlums .

hamara-pakistan Jan 31, 2015 02:13pm

parvez hoodhoy is one of best prominent thinker ever man can and have produced, if Pakistan government listen just 10 percent of what he suggest almost 100 % of all Pakistan's energy needs will be almost fulfilled

Anil mumbai Jan 31, 2015 02:14pm

If Pakistan have journakist like pervez hoodbhoy hasan nisar najam sethi then why paki peoples cant learnt from them? All above this people are ornaments of pakistan. kash india have had such kind of personalities? All we opens eyes of our govt with the help of pens of such kind of great personalities. because their writing their feelings comes from their hearts and brains. Hame lagta hai Allah has been given more brain power with humanities to all above columnist. Thanks pervez bhoy. greetings from indians jeeo hazaro saal. may Allah raise your life for thousands and thousand years.

SHAIKH JAMAL Jan 31, 2015 02:20pm

This is 45 times the electrical capacity of the two Karachi nuclear reactors! If India can build this much solar capacity in a few years, why can’t Pakistan? Let us by all means ask China, and the United States, and other countries for help. As Germany is showing so brilliantly, renewables like solar and wind — not nuclear — can safely and effectively meet a nation’s energy needs.

Ganesh Jan 31, 2015 02:31pm

Agree with your arguments prof. In principle. But one has to look from practicality. I think we in India are still in 20th century ( infrastructure/technology/RnD/energy independence etc perspective) and we need nuclear energy at least for next 30-40 years to bridge present gap between some of developed nations.Luckily India can take advantage of its geography which is favorable for nuclear energy.

Garg VK Jan 31, 2015 02:39pm

It gives me immense pleasure to read this balanced article on energy.

panwar Jan 31, 2015 02:39pm

My request to Pakistani citizen, specially educated people, please arrange conclave in main cities with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy like people so that nation get some clear directions. Yearly conclaves of Karachi and Lahore should be follows in other cities, Asha Ki Kiran.

Keshavan Jan 31, 2015 02:46pm

Regards, Professor. From India.

Thiru Jan 31, 2015 02:52pm

Plant a tree along the raod in India, you can be sure more often than not, stripped for animal fodder and firewood, without a chance to grow. Put a latrine, the pipes and fixtures are stolen. What chance for windmills and solar panels without security and that is not possible for a distributed installation. You can't blame poor people.

ajeet Jan 31, 2015 03:00pm

A brilliant article sir. We need people like you on both sides of the border.

Riaz Jan 31, 2015 03:03pm

Why do we need to question Indian development programmes? India is a sovereign state and is taking care of its needs very well. Our opposition to its programmes is nothing else but indicative of our failures. It would be better if we focus and use our energies in developing own infrastructure, instead of this meaningless blame game; or I might say unnecessary crying.

Rahul Jan 31, 2015 03:03pm

my favorite columnist...even if some day i come across any of your columns which badly criticizes India..i will still go through it..as it will be written by a sane man.. and will contain logic not emotions. love to read you, always.

Sana Jan 31, 2015 03:05pm

Least accident that the world has ever seen is from nuclear energy.It's the cleanest energy.The author has not done good homework or research.

Thiru Jan 31, 2015 03:07pm

@Abdul raheem How long are you going to be asking someone else for something? What will be the return currency?

Thiru Jan 31, 2015 03:13pm

@SHAIKH JAMAL Germany has a smaller population. It does not belong to the nuclear weapons club. It is strange that countries and people who are happy for nuclear weapons to be on their soil are unhappy about power plants and chemical factories. Is it because, the dangers of weapons are understood and safety standards and security are adhered to and we know that this is not the case with power plants and factories even though the latter have killed hundreds of thousands?

Wajahat Hussain Jan 31, 2015 03:21pm

@INDIAN : I second it with all honesty of purpose! People like our Doctor sahib are our assets but we are bunch of irresponsible's who do not see anything beyond our personal interests.

p r sharma Jan 31, 2015 03:25pm

solar power of india presently is 1000 MW approx. Addition of another 99000 MW with the assistance of USA within next 7 years appears to be quite ambitious. By the way USA produces only 1800 MW of solar energy while Germany with 35000 MW ranks number ONE in the world.

Ahmed Saeed Jan 31, 2015 03:36pm

Total irrational writing. Obama has no love for India. He was begged to visit India. In return Modi is trying to flex his muscle to weaker neighbours.

Manjeet kocchar Jan 31, 2015 03:40pm

good article

AbdulJabbar - Doha (Indian) Jan 31, 2015 03:41pm

@Barry .... Gas powered energy generation is only suitable for smaller countries like middle east. Indian demand for energy is huge and with 1300 million population and the demand in next few decades will unthinkable. Coal powered is not environment friendly at all. At the movement nuclear is the best and cheap energy source and environment friendly if no such accidents happen. I think for Pakistan also it is same but worried about the Chinese plant near Karachi which will bring disaster not only to Pakistan but also India as we are so close.

Apoorva Jan 31, 2015 03:45pm

Good Analysis...better than the Indian Jayaraman

Akash Jan 31, 2015 03:47pm

You nailed it!! Systematic and logical analysis. Thanks for this superb piece.

Anwar Jan 31, 2015 03:53pm

"Sibling rivalry means, of course, that Pakistan stands miffed."

So Pakstan and India are siblings!!

Sahil Jan 31, 2015 03:57pm

Sir excellent article.

Regards From an Indian

Bismillah Jan 31, 2015 04:03pm

Good article, keeping the welfare of Pakistan at heart. You certainly deserve appreciation.

I wish you also write an article on how the Indo-Pak deadlock can be breached. It can be a 5-10-15-20 year plan. But each step recommended should be towards lasting solution and peace in the region.

We need people like you to show light on the dark side of the subcontinent. To start with, please advice on the baby steps. May God bless you and Pakistan.

G Vishwanath Jan 31, 2015 04:06pm

@Hassan I suggest someone translates such articles. There are so many great writers in Dawn (Pervez Hoodboy, Irfan Husain, NFP are my favourites) and they get limited exposure because they write in English. If they can't write Urdu, why can't a translation be arranged? I suspect, the Urdu press does not want such views circulated among the masses in Pakistan.

AJ Jan 31, 2015 04:09pm

@Sivaram Pochiraju Solar plants cost about 7 crore INR in India per installed MW. A GW would cost INR 7000 crores. That is about $1.16 billion. So 100 GW would cost $116 Billion. That is not an outlandish amount. For comparison, India's GDP is about US$ 1,900 Billion. India's installed power capacity is currently about 70 GW so this would be a huge addition. Solar power is especially useful for industrial needs (during the day). Makes much more sense than nuclear.

Pradip Sarkar Jan 31, 2015 04:15pm

I like the man, he always explain thing in logical way.

Mahendra Jan 31, 2015 04:25pm

Very good balanced article Sir, renewable energy is the way to go for any country. It is an open secret that the nuclear power generation is more or less a mask/proxy to produce bomb grade uranium and platinum and hence all the concern by India or Pakistan when either country tries to get a nuclear reactor. The rest as they say is diplomacy, the concerns and problems of common man being the least of bother for the govts.

Shamsuddin Jan 31, 2015 04:30pm

A very brilliant article.

Sierrabrave Jan 31, 2015 05:11pm

Rational, logical, to the point decision makers in India & Pakistan must take note...

Lafanga Jan 31, 2015 05:29pm

Pakistan and India get plenty of year round sunshine and good windy spots as well. Why not invest in these technologies to generate power for the masses. Any gap can be filled in by gas or coal powered power plants. If both countries can get on the same page, there is plenty of energy in Central Asia that can be piped in at much lower price. If both countries reduce defence spending by 25% each, this can easily pay for this. Well wishful thinking on my part.

HUMAN Jan 31, 2015 05:31pm

Being a scientist, he should start developing that renewable technology for pakistan

fida sayani USA Jan 31, 2015 05:32pm

there is no place for rational people in the policy making of Pakistan. Dr Hoodbhoy like Dr. Salam is one such rational individual, who is being sidelined by the successive governments in Pakistan, because he does not belong to a particular group.

indian Jan 31, 2015 05:46pm

deep thought

Pranay Jan 31, 2015 05:58pm

Overall a good article except for a few irrational comments such as "If India can build this much solar capacity in a few years, why can’t Pakistan?". Come on there is no parity between India and Pakistan.

AJay Gupta Jan 31, 2015 05:59pm

again, wish u were indian!

think_then_speak Jan 31, 2015 06:09pm

Brilliant ideas. Renewable energy seems more promising and sustainable.

Vijayendra Kumar Jan 31, 2015 06:56pm

There have been 3 nuclear accidents, 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Three Mile Island was not a catastrophe. The other 2 were. There was nothing wrong with the reactor at Fukushima. It was the unanticipated Tsunami that caused the damage. Chernobyl was due to faulty design and improper operation. Current technology is much much safer and has built in safety features that shuts down the reactor automatically in case of an accident. More people have been affected by coal plants which are highly polluting than by all the nuclear plants put together. If you add the coal miners that die mining coal and the global warming due to its emissions it causes more damage. Green Energy can only supply 10% of energy needs as consumption of energy increases. All in all nuclear energy is essential.

AdHawk Jan 31, 2015 07:12pm

Yours is one article I truly wait for week after week. And I've never been disappointed. You're THE beacon of rationality and humanism in this hapless nation.

glassyman Jan 31, 2015 07:23pm

India is moving towards indeginisation of almost all equipments ranging from medicine defence aviation. This too may be a way to get the technology. First order some machines and then you reproduce them. That's way cheaper but not ethical

asok bhagat Jan 31, 2015 07:30pm

Pervez Hoodbhoy is well known for his progressive rationalistic and universal thinking.

siddharth Jan 31, 2015 07:42pm

Thank you professor. You helped me understand pros and cons of India's nuclear deal. I was wondering about why so much money to be raised for insurance. Your article explained. Thank you once again Prof. and to you DAWN.

graham Jan 31, 2015 07:53pm

@AJay Gupta No need. As long as you keep your heart and minds open, best of the world will flow at your directions.

Zainab Jan 31, 2015 07:55pm

A very well written essay by a knowledgeable person. However, the author missed a very important factor that could add to the dangers posed by nuclear reactors in Pakistan - and the factor is that Pakistan is one of the nations that are on top of the list of the most corrupt nations in the world.

shaukat ali chughtai Jan 31, 2015 07:58pm

A brilliant article by a brilliant professor. An eye opener article ....it will disappoint those politicians who are exp[ecting huge kick backs.

nasiroski Jan 31, 2015 08:01pm

Nuclear power is not for 3rd world countries where controls are overlooked and corners are cut during operations to save operating costs or lack of competence.

Agnos Jan 31, 2015 08:04pm

Sir you are talking rationally. No one will listen to you.

dude Jan 31, 2015 08:23pm

I respect this man

Yudhbir Jan 31, 2015 08:24pm

Dr Hoodbhoy, I wish we had people like you in India. Sir, you're a an intellectual of a very high quality.

commnder Jan 31, 2015 08:56pm

I am really jealous of Pakistan for having you.

I do not really believe in the India - a superpower hogwash, we actually have a long way to go. We need to analyze every step vis-a-vis policy issues and also take care of our people, not of big powers or companies, which is something that needs to be continually addressed for us to become a strong (rather than powerful) nation.

It's not like people haven't talked about the perils of nuclear energy or nuclear weaponry. But, the way you do it, any layman can make the sense of it. Kudos!

Sandeep Jan 31, 2015 09:09pm

Brilliant analysis!! Looking at the inherent dangers associated with Nuclear power plants, are the solar and other energies a viable alternative?

Subodh Kas Jan 31, 2015 09:10pm

This writer has all right credentials. Smarts, personality, wisdom, and hands on that talks issues on ground reality that suits subcontinent. We need more of this breed on both sides on borders. I may not agree with him on everything but he put his points across so fluently and fact based, its hard to disagree. Pakistan needs more persons like him.

Mainman Jan 31, 2015 09:22pm

Wow. This guy is making too much sense. I could not help but think how much better relations between India and Pakistan would be if we had more such folks in Pakistan's military and political leadership

If and when that happens the subcontinent will prosper

isarivelan Jan 31, 2015 09:25pm

@Yasir

At least there won't be a disaster if there is an accident.

AQ Quaidian Jan 31, 2015 09:34pm

Well articulated sir.kindly write on US India relation and its impacts on south Asian politics..it is really factual article in term of N deal between abovementioned countries..

Raj Jan 31, 2015 09:41pm

An excellent analysis.

prince Jan 31, 2015 10:31pm

Bhopal gas tragedy was a result of poor maintenance of equipment by the Management which was resulted in the tragedy

Riaz Jan 31, 2015 10:39pm

Say no to nuclear energy; Pakistan.

Tariq, Lahore Jan 31, 2015 10:51pm

Excellent logical argument/narrative! If every roof top supported it's very own PV panels there would be no power shortage due to abundance of sunshine!

mimi sur Jan 31, 2015 10:57pm

Mr.Hoodbhoy :

Absolutely right. N-energy has its side effects . But we are not Germany, our population and needs are huge and only Renewable energy can't satisfy our thirst . And we love people who states their rational thinking . I think India needs another nuclear-bhopal lesson to teach Mr.Modi a lesson that we should n't be blind for development.

Rajendra Tiwari Jan 31, 2015 11:05pm

Pervez Hoodbhoy deserves to be the Energy Czar of Pakistan (and India).

nasiroski Jan 31, 2015 11:05pm

Wind farms along with solar farms will be ideal for Karachi's coastal belt, there have been numerous studies already completed to conclude that.

Rashid Siddiqui Jan 31, 2015 11:14pm

Excellent article. As always, whatever you write makes sense. Please sir, take good care of yourself. Thank you!

Amir Indian Jan 31, 2015 11:17pm

@AbdulJabbar - Doha (Indian) very well said and good observation. I agree with you.

Yasir Jan 31, 2015 11:40pm

@Harmony What is the destruction if a dam fails due to earthquake or excessive flooding?. This cynicism is not good. Moreover, renewable energy solar/hydro fluctuates it can only cater peak loads. Pakistan's hydro power almost reduces to 1/3rd during winters +canal closures.Our base loads should be carried by coal and nuclear resources.

AK Jan 31, 2015 11:45pm

@Yasir He did not talk about hydro or coal.. Read that paragraph..

pathanoo Jan 31, 2015 11:50pm

Excellent article well argued as only a scientist can who only deals in fact based truths. Nuclear energy is only a bridge to the future which is renewables.

amd Jan 31, 2015 11:57pm

Brialliant article .Dr Hoodbhoy is among that category of global citizens who have made an immense contribution for the betterment of the world.India should welcome and give permanent residency status to Dr Hoodbhoy

Keti Zilgish Feb 01, 2015 12:02am

Representative Democracy has failed and Direct Democracy is waiting to be tried.

Sridhar Feb 01, 2015 12:03am

One wise man! Hope people heed to his wisdom.

Sam Feb 01, 2015 12:16am

Chinese products known throughout the world for cheap made low cost products, trusting all weather friend with Nuclear reactor in middle of Karachi is insane.

Keti Zilgish Feb 01, 2015 12:20am

@Keshavan nice to know you too.

Indian guy Feb 01, 2015 12:32am

Finally and educated writer who knows global implications and dangers of Nuclear reactors. Fantastic article.

Keti Zilgish Feb 01, 2015 12:33am

@Ganesh I can accept your argument that it would be only a 30 to 40 year deal but how do you propose dealing with the nuclear waste? And where geology is concerned if South Asia were stable there would not be any Himalayas.

Keti Zilgish Feb 01, 2015 12:45am

@SHAIKH JAMAL Rather than go as far as USA or even across the mountains to China why not have the humility to let India do our dirty work for us and we can just be friends with India and get it from them. Don't you think we would save a lot of the money and precious lives we are wasting on defence. After all is that not what Germany and Japan did to catch up at the fastest possible rate. Or do you all think we should be waiting for a calamity like WW2 to kick-start our brains.

kaliraja thangamani Feb 01, 2015 02:05am

After Fukusima incident, we aware about the dangers of nuclear reactors.Pakistan must put stringent conditions to Chineese companies on safety matters. Pakistan must not think this nuclear issue through Indian angle.India was illegaly invaded by China in 1962 that made India to take measures to protect it from Chinese Military might,so India went to nuclear.That is not acceptable to lot of people like me.At the same time India has assured Pakistan on no first use.China is using Pakistan as a counter weight against India.If anything happened in Karachi,Pakistan and neighbour India will be affected not China.I am grateful to the professor for writing this fine article.

Indian Aborad Feb 01, 2015 03:52am

Nuclear energy is safe and those facilites have been established in most of the developed world(eg canada). So we should not be so much worried. Of course you have to worry about those china-made in Karchi. To the Author: You guys are really gems in Pak. That piece of land does not deserve you. Come to India or go to the West.

Zubair N Feb 01, 2015 05:00am

@Yasir : Yes, Nuclear power is relatively least harmful to the environment. however, there must be safeguards in place to ensure no disaster takes place. In case of a disaster, as happened in Japan, the damage is catastrophic and must be kept in mind when choosing the location of said reactor.

Babu Feb 01, 2015 05:09am

@Sana "Least accident that the world has ever seen is from nuclear energy.It's the cleanest energy.The author has not done good homework or research."

Hello? Are you serious?? Have you heard of Fukushima? Or Chernobyl? Or Three Mile Island? You must be joking!

Babu Feb 01, 2015 05:16am

@Anwar ""Sibling rivalry means, of course, that Pakistan stands miffed." So Pakstan and India are siblings!!"

Of course they are. Like big brother, little brother that parted ways but still bound by common blood (heritage). No wonder the obsession with each other.

Babu Feb 01, 2015 05:24am

@Vijayendra Kumar "There have been 3 nuclear accidents, 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Three Mile Island was not a catastrophe. The other 2 were. There was nothing wrong with the reactor at Fukushima. It was the unanticipated Tsunami that caused the damage. Chernobyl was due to faulty design and improper operation. Current technology is much much safer and has built in safety features that shuts down the reactor automatically in case of an accident. More people have been affected by coal plants which are highly polluting than by all the nuclear plants put together. If you add the coal miners that die mining coal and the global warming due to its emissions it causes more damage. Green Energy can only supply 10% of energy needs as consumption of energy increases. All in all nuclear energy is essential."

Safeguards are the key. The energy itself might be clean but the fallout in case of failure can be disastrous as we've seen with examples sited. Nevertheless, when the older power plants were built, they were thought to be safe. No one imagined a tsunami could cause such damage. Don't underestimate the damage caused by TMI. People are still affected by what happened about thirty years ago.On the other hand the Sun blesses us with it energy for free. Its a shame to not utilize this source in places where it shines brightly most of the year.

someone_else Feb 01, 2015 06:12am

@mimi sur What kind of Indian you are to even think about another Bhopal like disaster just for the sake of politicians to learn a lesson? Shame on you.

Sandip Feb 01, 2015 06:23am

Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear reactors is a severe bout of "me too" disease that Pakistan has been afflicted with since its birth. The same money could have been used for Kalabagh dam which would have provided much needed water and flood control as well. Yet for Pakistani establishment, it was important to prove that if India got nuclear reactors then Pakistan had to have it as well. Even if it meant piling on tons of additional debt.

ss Feb 01, 2015 07:08am

It is foolish to believe that solar energy can replace coal or hydro based electricity. the uncomfortable truth is that given the massive increase in consumption that the less developed countries are going to witness, there is no choice but to go nuclear. There is no choice in the matter and any attempt to pretend otherwise is plain dishonesty.

Tamilselvan Feb 01, 2015 07:23am

Sir, would like to disagree with you on several points. Koodankulam protests were orchestrated by foreign missionaries and NGO's and churches were getting money from foreign countries. They kept quite for more than 10 years when the plant was being constructed and started protesting when the plant was going critical and begin generating power. Bhopal incident was an accident where the water pumps did not work and poisonous gases escaped and the tragedy took place. Does it mean that no chemicals should be produced and the answer is NO. With so many hundreds of nuclear plants generating electricity around the world only three have had accidents and of it one was due to Tsunami. There are lessons learned from it. India has been talking about thorium cycle since the 50's and still nothing has materialized and it would take decades to find alternate fuel. India has signed deals with several countries and does not meant they are tied only to US contractors. India nuclear industry has matured over the years and they are capable of accessing the vendors. And you should be aware that India has acted with responsibilities and have stolen technologies or do they have any rouge scientists like Pakistan. All the alternate energy in the world provide less than 1% of the electric needs of the world which means it would take several years to come up with alternate energy sources. Until then countries in S.Asia and countries who do have fossiel energy should look for nuclear energy. The initial costs is high but the power generation is cheaper in most cases and causes less pollution too.

baba Feb 01, 2015 08:09am

That becomes relevant IF India ever buys a reactor from the US. Very unlikely.

Ba'ni Feb 01, 2015 08:56am

A lot of Indians and Pakistanis find Dr Hoodbhoy brillliant and insightful, even as he merely reviews aspects of Indian power production strategy.

Ammy Feb 01, 2015 10:33am

I could not have agreed more to the professor.

Instead of running towards nuclear, if solar energy is persued more vigorously,it would ensure a safe and unpolluted environment. Also agree why should Indian taxpayer bear the cost of accident by a US reactor, after all if they can reap the profit, then they should have taken the liability as well. Indian govt has lost this point to US.

Hope such thinkers were in India in great numbers. It's irony that Pakistan is not using theories of people like Professor.

gama bhayi Feb 01, 2015 11:34am

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping has made an exception by agreeing to meet the visiting Indian external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, on Monday. The Chinese president rarely meets the visiting foreign ministers from other countries, who are sometimes accorded respect by a meeting with the country's premier.

Adam K? Feb 01, 2015 12:24pm

@Will Plus, he makes all those so-called analyses by professional op-ed writers, who've written so many clones of snarky pieces on Obama's visit to India, look rather silly and pitiful.

Adam K? Feb 01, 2015 12:26pm

@Harmony Better Pakistan for a laboratory than China. That's how friends think..

Adam K? Feb 01, 2015 12:28pm

@Mahendra How about scaling back our demands and being more efficient as part of the solution, too?

Adam K? Feb 01, 2015 12:35pm

@prince So, no maintenance of equipment is part of a nuclear reactor? E.g. Japan's Fukushima reactors. (An irony: Japan was the only country in history on which an A-bomb was dropped by an enemy during war. US then helped in the creation of a prosperous, peaceful, and democratic Japan and the two have been allies ever since. Fukushima could have been a more lethal self-inflicted nuclear bomb. We still do not know the long-term effects. At one time, it was so easy to identify enemies. Not anymore. Isn't life is so fully of ironies today when we do not know even know who our real enemies are.)

nikus Feb 01, 2015 12:40pm

i think, the nuke power is for thinly populated areas like tn,karnataka,gujrat and Maharashtra....the basic pov from indian govt. is to use the processed fuel in using thorium based FBRs...we have to preserve coal as much as possible.......

Adam K? Feb 01, 2015 12:47pm

@Keti Zilgish If we have any brains left to kick start. :-)

Dr Adnan Feb 01, 2015 02:24pm

Very informative piece, many would be surprised to know that nuclear energy is a thing of the past! Nicely explained and daily-usable good sense prevails.

Harmony Feb 01, 2015 04:40pm

@Yasir - Natural disaster like earthquake are natural phenomena. Dam or no dam, it can still be devastating wherever it strikes. Bhopal and Chernobyl were man made disasters. Understand the difference.

Rahul Feb 01, 2015 07:59pm

Agree with Dr Hoodbhoy, renewable energy and sustainable development is the way forward. Besides Modi in his election manifesto promised to expand India's renewable potential. Lets wait and watch how things turn out later on.

sps Feb 01, 2015 10:51pm

Non partial article based on true facts. no one will be benefited by the this dangerous nuclear energy.countries should make effort toward developing solar,wind,and other source of generating power.

Dr.Mohammad Fareed Feb 01, 2015 11:58pm

Simply genius but more importantly Practical and thought provoking for all who love Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons.We should rather focus on Nuclear Families all over the world. Thanks for a beautifully written article professor which even I as a physician can understand. DrFareed USA

manish Feb 02, 2015 12:17am

Good article by Physics Professor. Pakistan can use nuclear weapons for power requirements. Why wasting money on reactors?

Laeeq,NY Feb 02, 2015 01:00am

What a well thought out article! Unfortunately, In this country personal interests are before the national interests. Who care about the liability of those firms, what matter is the commissions generated by these mega projects.

Naeem Khalid Feb 02, 2015 11:55am

The newly planned power plants in Karachi are based on the reactors design ACP1000. In the ACP1000 design for the new nuclear power plants to be built at Karachi, the reactor system itself is based on the PWR concept, which has been the workhorse of the nuclear industry in the past five decades. The ACP1000 design is a continuation of the development of the PWR concept in China, of which many are operational and under construction. It has many safety targets of the new generation of reactors and to incorporate the lessons learnt from the Fukushima Accident.

Khazeena Feb 02, 2015 12:16pm

If nuclear is not as much important as it appeared from the above account; then why a long lingered big deal signed between the two countries US and India? Nuclear has its importance in the midst of all the renewable and nonrenewable energy reserves. It is one of the cheapest viable options which pose no harm to environment. Apart from South Asian regional politics, we are really shock to have such statements that ‘Karachi is at danger with Nuclear’ and many more. There have been three nuclear accidents till so far and none resulted in any immediate radiation-related casualties among the masses. We need to concentrate on true and actual picture of nuclear safety measures taken by Pakistani authorities against in sharp contrast with India. This is a fact that India is confronted with numerous anti-nuclear moves against nuclear power set up. The nuclear related authorities foremost aim is to provide nuclear safety at optimum level.

Sanjay Guha Feb 02, 2015 12:18pm

Great piece and very objective.

R.Kannan Feb 02, 2015 01:40pm

Good article except that the issues about Kudankulam are only partially correct. It is well known that many of the protestors were actually paid money to go on protest and that the plant was ready earlier but it was the availability of fuel that was the problem. The protest gained no local traction and ran out of money & fizz.The plant is running well for sometime now. The professor misses the big point with Solar, or other renewables, energy systems. They can only act as a partial contributor as the energy produced is dependent on nature's vagaries. The base load, which will take care of the fluctuations between supply & demand, has to be thermal, till further technological development. Nowhere in the world do renewables meet more than 10% of the demand and even the 100,000 MW Solar energy will only be the tip of the ice berg in India. The world is forced to chose between fossil fuel, with related carbon emissions, and nuclear for its major energy needs. We have to wait for mankind to develop more suitable technologies before we can discard nuclear or fossil fuels.

facts Feb 02, 2015 01:50pm

To underscore the remarkable German case, let’s review what happened in 2011, right after Fukushima. The Bundestag—led by the most conservative and pro-nuclear party, with no party dissenting—overwhelmingly voted to close eight of the country’s nuclear plants immediately and the other nine by 2022. (In a double U-turn, a nuclear phase-out agreed in 2000 was first slowed and then reinstated; nuclear output has actually been falling since 2006.) Skeptics said this abrupt shutdown of 41% of nuclear output would make the lights go out, the economy crash, carbon emissions and electricity prices soar, and Germany need to import nuclear power from France. But none of that happened.

In fact, in 2011 the German economy grew three percent and remained Europe’s strongest, buoyed by a world-class renewables industry with 382,000 jobs (about 222,000 of them added since 2004, with net employment and net stimulus both positive).

Arun Madhav Feb 02, 2015 02:54pm

Brilliant. No noise in the article, only scientific points. very nice to read.

Governments of South Asian countries need to harness such people for the upliftment of south-asia and its youth and children...

To India - instead of our legislators going on wasteful trips abroad, get the professor to visit us and provide his lectures and consulting!

sadam Gurmani Feb 02, 2015 04:01pm

the writer knows just politics and does not know the slightest technical info regarding nuclear power plants.the country where scientists and engineers have been operating those plants for decades there he is pointing fingers and trying to justify his answer by quoting perils attached with nuclear power...Mr hoodbhoy can you please tell me how many people have lost their lives while working in those plants or even during accidents hardly fraction of those died in other power industry related accicdents.Ignorance raises the questions and PAEC can not tell you the sensitive details.

alok Feb 02, 2015 07:02pm

Brilliant article...applauas..

Faraz Afzal Feb 02, 2015 07:37pm

Totally agreed. Big powers look for big markets to sell their product, with India being the most ideal. The excessive use of nuclear technology is how much harmful, only time will tell but Pakistan should try to meet its energy requirements by building dams and focusing on renewable energy, even the re-structuring of energy dealing frame body will help to minimize the deficit.

Umair Feb 02, 2015 08:23pm

A good insight into the Karachi nuclear plants. Can we place these plants along the relatively less threatened Makran coast or some what inland keeping in view the Fukishima. Or may be abandon them altogether and instead invest in wind and solar, which will not only be long term but will may boast our industrial capacity as well.

Ram K. Chopra Feb 02, 2015 08:40pm

A very good article I learnt a few new things. I wish Indian journalists had investigated and reported and educated us more. I read Indian papers then read American papers, in many instances I get a better picture and find a lot missing from the rhetoric of Indian media.

After reading this welcome expose, I am not deterred and would like India to proceed with building Nuclear Plants using American knowhow. America and its institutions allow for continuous improvements and updates. Their institutions also look at the safety of American products in foreign and poorer lands.

India and Indian people have opted for advancement, more jobs, and more gadgets. This needs more electric power. Can India meet its needs of today with the money resources they have? Like a family they need to commit resources to meet their needs to the maximum.

I am sure leaders of India or Pakistan must have had their top nuclear scientists and designers review the proposed designs and reviewed them against the history of recent accidents. And I am sure they must have used their best economists to allocate their resources against today’s needs. Any delays are costly and counterproductive and setback for its people.

The issue is would the suppliers supply inferior and unsafe products to India – Answer is no – they would not spend resources to design and build inferior product for India.

Keti Zilgish Feb 03, 2015 07:26am

When the only power (political as well as electrical, religious, etc) available will be that which is produced directly by the consumer will it be adequately appreciated.