(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 28 , 2008
Clandestine Deals With US Nuclear Power Companies Exposed
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on September 20, 2008
THE UPA government seems to have already decided to place orders with the American nuclear power companies for supplying a large number of nuclear reactors without any debate in the country regarding the cost of such imported reactors, or the safety of their designs. William Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 18, 2008 stated:
The Indian government has provided the United States with a strong Letter of Intent, stating its intention to purchase reactors with at least 10,000 Mega Watts (MWe) worth of new power generation capacity from US firms. India has committed to devote at least two sites to US firms. India also has committed to adhere to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
Each 1000/1,100 MW reactor from US companies like Westinghouse or GE, by latest estimates, will cost at least $7 billion each. This translates to approximately Rs 28 crore per MW, which is 7 to 8 times the capital cost of coal fired thermal power plants of equivalent capacity. The 10,000 MW figure stated by Burns implies India putting in around Rs 2,80,000 crore of Indian money to bail out the US nuclear industry that has failed to secure any domestic order for the last 30 years. If one misguided Enron project could sink the Maharashtra State Electricity Board owing to exorbitant costs, such expensive imports of nuclear reactors can sink the entire power sector of the country.
Of even greater concern is the mention by Burns of India’s commitment to adhere to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. Shorn of verbiage, this means that in the case of any Bhopal type disaster, the Indian government will take over all liabilities from the suppliers and the operators. The suppliers of nuclear reactors have demanded a no-liability regime for supplying equipment, which the UPA government seems to have accepted without any public debate.
The entire India-US nuclear deal has been shrouded in secrecy, lies and half lies. A number of these have already been unravelled with the Presidential Determination submitted to the US Congress making public the US interpretation of the 123 Agreement. Now it appears that there is much more about this deal that the UPA government is hiding from the Indian people. Large purchases from US based nuclear power companies have already been committed in a clandestine manner.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) opposes these underhand deals struck by the UPA government. A proper exercise regarding the costs and benefits of nuclear power must be carried out by an independent body before key decisions regarding energy policy in the country are taken. The energy policy of the country should not be held hostage to the demands of the India-US nuclear deal.