Indo Muslim clerics: Nuclear power plant 'haram'

Dozens of Muslim clerics issued an edict against a plan for the construction of Indonesia's first nuclear power plant on the country's densely populated Central Java, on grounds of potential dangers of such a project, local media reports said Monday.

Indo Muslim clerics: Nuclear power plant 'haram'

Dozens of Muslim clerics issued an edict against a plan for the construction of Indonesia's first nuclear power plant on the country's densely populated Central Java, on grounds of potential dangers of such a project, local media reports said Monday.

The scholars from the country's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, acknowledged the plant, which is scheduled to be operational by 2016, would help meet the rising demand for electricity.

But the clerics declared the proposed nuclear power plant "haram," or forbidden by Islam, as its potential dangers would very much outweigh its benefits, The Jakarta Post reported.

"After considering all the arguments from the experts, both those in favour and those against, this forum has decided that the development of the Muria power plant is 'haram,'" Kholilurrohman, spokesman for the clerics, was quoted as saying at the end of the Sunday meeting to discuss the proposed project.

He said the clerics particularly doubted the ability of the future project operator to ensure the safety of the plant, "especially the handling of radioactive waste."

Java accounts for more than 60 per cent of Indonesia's 225 million people who inhabit the 17,000 islands that comprise the sprawling archipelago nation.

Indonesia is moving ahead with controversial plans to build its first nuclear power plant, which if completed on schedule in 2017 would put the country in South-east Asia's nuclear vanguard.

The plant would be built in Muria Peninsula at the foot of the dormant Mount Muria volcano in the earthquake-prone Central Java, about 450 kilometres east of Jakarta, with a capacity of 4,000 megawatts by 2025. Construction tenders may be called as early as next year.

On Saturday, more than 1,000 residents from Balong village - the closest settlement to the planned power plant - walked as far as 25 kilometres to Jepara district town, to protest the plant.

Indonesia, the world's most-populous Muslim nation with an estimated 200 million believers, hopes nuclear power will contribute a total of 4,000 megawatts to the country's electricity grid by 2025.

Environmentalists have long criticized the proposed nuclear plant, saying there are cheaper, safer ways to generate power since the country has more environmentally sound sources, including geothermal and natural gas.

But government officials have insisted that Mount Muria was chosen because a feasibility study showed it was the safest area in terms of volcanic and tectonic activities and tsunami disaster.

The volcano has been dormant for more than 3,000 years, officials claim, noting that nuclear technology has already been extensively applied in Indonesia, especially for agriculture, animal husbandry, health, water resources and industry.

The archipelago is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

DPA

Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2007, 18:20
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