Manmohan Singh blames US NGOs for anti-nuclear demonstrations
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed US non-profit groups in an interview published on Friday for whipping up anti-nuclear demonstrations that have stalled two new atomic plants.
Singh told the American journal "Science" that "the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the US, don't appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply."
India's fast-growing economy is heavily dependent on coal, but the government hopes to raise the proportion of power produced from nuclear from less than three percent to 25 percent by 2050.
"The thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy," Singh said in the interview with "Science," a copy of which was posted on his website.
But plans to construct a massive atomic power station using Russian help in the southern state of Tamil Nadu have been thrown into disarray following angry protests led by local villagers and activists.
The government was forced to stall its programme to build two 1000-megawatt nuclear reactors in Koodankulam and Russia's ambassador to India, M. Kadakin, has voiced frustration with the delays.
"We cannot allow our scientists to remain idle endlessly. For months together, they are without work,"
Kadakin was reported to have said earlier this month by local media.
In western India, violent demonstrations against the government's proposal to build a huge atomic power station near the Jaitapur port saw one man killed and several injured when police opened fire in April 2011.
Environmentalists have steadily campaigned to stop construction of new nuclear plants in the country, especially after Japan's Fukushima crisis last March, but the government has vowed to press on.
Singh also backed genetically modified crops to increase farm yields, despite pressure from "NGOs, often funded from the US and Scandinavian countries which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces."
In 2010, India halted its plans to introduce its first genetically modified vegetable into the market, following resistance from citizens, scientists and state governments.
The ban is due to be reconsidered by the government this year, following further research and public consultations.
Manmohan Singh blames US NGOs for anti-nuclear demonstrations - The Times of India