Pakistan’s energy crisis is the most serious challenge that the country of over 180 million people is facing. The prolonged electricity outages experienced in the last ten years have negatively impacted the economy while resulting in popular outbursts against the ruling regimes. The crisis has been responded to by successive political governments in the form of ad-hoc measures, such as addressing circular debts and acquiring rental power plants as well as through establishment of power generation facilities. The nuclear power plants in Karachi K-II and K-III, launched in November 2013 by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, follows the same pursuit.
Public trust on nuclear power generators is shaken because of the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The plants are located very close to the major population settlements of Karachi. Experts admit that Karachi has more people living within a 30 km radius of its already existing nuclear plant facility (KANNUP) than any other city in the world – around eight million.
There are serious environmental, political, social, and economic concerns related to nuclear energy generation. Apart from air contamination and effects on soil productivity, the threat of an accident or a natural and a man-made disaster is real. In case of the latter, leading to exposure of large doses of radiation in the atmosphere, the human cost may run for generations. Furthermore, the utmost significant issue of the disposal of nuclear waste is often contentious because of acute resistance from local population.
The panelists include the participation of experts on nuclear technology, environment, and citizens’ rights. They will discuss the social, environmental, and political costs associated with nuclear power generation, the space for rights in development pursuits, and the significance of exploring renewable sources of energy to address Pakistan’s power crisis.
Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar – former Physics Professor QAU and LUMS, Peace Activist, and Anti-Nuclear Campaigner.
Dr. Nausheen Anwar – Assistant Professor, Urban Studies, Institute of Business Administration Karachi (IBA)
Karamat Ali – Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research
Arif Belgaumi – Arif Belgaumi Architects
Representative of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Government of Pakistan (TBA)
Moderated by Dr. Hafeez Jamali – Interim Director (Social Development and Policy) and Assistant Professor, Habib University