Urgent need to explore alternative sources of energy: Dr Marjit

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Kolkata, Jul 19 (UNI) With the energy crisis having unprecedented repercussions throughout the world and the Indian economy faced with the threat of recession following rising crude prices and inflation, the Centre has no option but to explore alternative sources of energy, be it nuclear, solar or wind.

Professor of Industrial Economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Science Dr Sugato Marjit expressed this opinion while addressing a panel discussion on ''Time for Energy Rethink'' here yesterday.

''India has an installed capacity of approximately 1,00,000 MW power, 60 per cent of which is thermal or coal-based and only 2.5 per cent of it is nuclear energy while 1.5 per cent is produced from wind sources,'' he informed.

He disclosed that coal shortage was an important issue confronting the government. However, the problem was not from the supply side as according to the Coal Ministry, India had enough reserves to last for the next 243 years. Rather the problem was because of the quality of coal as the ash content of the indigenous coal was not good due to which the government was compelled to import coal.

''Moreover, very extensive use of coal is not eco-friendly. India requires substantial energy to sustain a growth rate of 9-10 per cent over the next 20 years and nuclear energy is an important alternative source of clean energy,'' Dr Marjit added.

Similarly, the Indo-Iran gas pipeline through Pakistan was also a very sensitive issue as there were many problems associated with the project, including those concerning security and delivery.

''Therefore, it is imperative to introduce the use of alternative sources of energy on a massive scale. Any country has to diversify rather than specialise in the field of energy and the government should not let go of any opportunity to explore other innovative means, be it nuclear or solar,'' he remarked.

He also informed that there were ten nuclear reactors in the country which were operating at half their installed capacity because of shortage of uranium reserves.

''India has thorium reserves in abundance but again there are bottlenecks as thorium reactors require plutonium to kickstart. We have invested big time into reactors but have to incur huge losses due to shortage of inputs,'' he said.

In the case of hydel power too, there was opposition from the masses, for instance the Narmada Bachao Andolan, as the big dams caused major displacement.

Professor of Economics at the Indian Statistical Institute Dr Abhirup Sarkar, who also addressed the panel discussion, argued that the rising trend in crude prices was being witnessed not mainly because of shortage but because of increasing speculation.


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