It is disasters that have made the human kind conscious about the importance of striking a balance between development and the environment.
One of them was an accident at Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania, United States) in 1979, apparently "the worst accident in US commercial nuclear power generating history". [See: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "fact sheet" -- note that this came out in 2004; and "What's wrong with the NRC factsheet"]
Seven years later, Chernobyl (Ukraine, then part of USSR) saw "the worst accident ever in the history of nuclear power". More than 30 people died on the spot, and the "Nuclear fallout" (the residual radiation hazard) spread to Eastern and Western Europe, Scandinavia, the UK, Ireland and eastern North America.
After Chernobyl, the world has been going slow on Nuclear Power, that was once considered the final answer to all our energy worries. Many project proposals had to be shelved due to enormous opposition from the local people, scientsists and environmental activists. [There was one such proposal in Kerala about 15 years back].
Now we are turning to Nuclear Power once again. There has been opposion locally, but it is hardly making any news. The plan for the plant itself was kept away from media attention for quite some time, but the news is slowly coming in, thanks to Singur.
"West Bengal could be the site for eastern India's first nuclear power plant with a central committee recommending Haripur in coastal East Midnapore district as a possible location, an announcement which has already evoked protests by villagers there..", India e-News, Nov 20, 2006.
"The masses resist Haripur Nuclear power plant in Junput.." (Palash Biswas, on NDTV blogs).
Expectedly, the news is accompanied with anticipatory bails ["Scientist backing nuke plant project at Haripur", The Hindu].
The CPM seems to be confused. "Sitaram Yechury today said he was opposed to nuclear power stations as they were being eyed as potential customers by US firms that stand to benefit from the deal signed with the Bush administration.." (The Telegraph, Jan 8).
Even the country's safest reactors aren't so safe, according to its atomic regulations agency.
Can we afford another freaky accident? (We haven't recovered from that December Third yet..)