The recent earthquake in Japan, which has caused a major nuclear crisis has forced people across the world to ask questions about the viability of nuclear power. Indians too are asking whether nuclear power is a safe option for the country.

FEARS OF nuclear meltdown in Japan have put question marks on safety and security of `nuclear plants across the world. Analysts have predicted that the ongoing crisis in Japan will lead to soul searching about the future of nuclear power. This will also impact India’s ambitious nuclear power program.India is presently having twenty nuclear power plants with a generating capacity of 4,780 megawatt (MW), but all the plants are located in low seismic areas, and all plants are situated far away from the tectonically-active Himalayan zone. Nuclear plants in various earthquake prone regions of the world are categorized between Zone I to Zone IX. In India, all power plants are sited in Zone II, III and IV. The Zones II, III and IV come under lower seismic prone area while Zones VII, VIII and IX are highly seismic prone areas.

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India’s Narora Nuclear reactor is the only plant that is situated in Zone IV.All Japan’s nuclear plants are in Zones VII,VIII and IX, while Taiwan’s are in Zones VIII and IX. During the earthquake that rocked Bhuj in Gujarat in 2001, all nculear reactors withstood the shocks and aftershocks without any problem. Analysts said that in India all plants are quite safe and have been designed to withstand earthquakes. They also aver that Indian plants are relatively safe as compared to Japan as they are located in low seismic zones.

It must also be pointed that Japan is is vulnerable to high intensity earthquakes and as such all nuclear installations can face similar problems.