People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

November 04, 2007

Media's Creation Of 'Crippling Fuel Shortages'


The extent to which the corporate media is prepared to go in pushing the Indo-US nuclear deal as a do-or-die situation for our country's energy needs is clear from the Indian Express story relating to “crippling fuel shortage”. Its edition of October 29 carried a story on this quoting Dr S K Jain, Chairman cum Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited as saying that there would be 'crippling fuel shortages' for India's nuclear power plants.


Dr Jain ephatically rejected what has been attributed to him in the report in a letter written to CPI(M) MP Tapan Sen.


Below we give the text of the letter written by Tapan Sen to Dr S K Jain on October 29, 2007 and Dr Jain's reply sent on October 30, 2007


Dear Dr Jain,


Kindly refer to the leading news item appearing in the Indian Express today quoting you on the fuel shortage crippling India’s nuclear power plants which are currently running at half capacity. The news item also goes to the extent of stating that “there has been a steady decline in operating capacity of reactor over the years”.


Unfortunately, in the Annual Reports (2006-2007) of Department of Atomic Energy and NPCIL which have been placed in Parliament such critical constraint, as enumerated in the Indian Express, has not been highlighted at all. As a matter of fact in your statement in the 20th Annual General Meeting of your company on 03.08.2007 you had assured that the capacity factor of 63 per cent would improve further by September 2007. In the Annual Report of DAE, power generation till December 2006 had been shown more than targeted generation.


Will you please clarify at the earliest?


Dr S K Jain's Reply:


This has reference to your letter dated October 29, 2007, regarding the news item appeared in the Indian Express of October 29, 2007.


I would like to clarify that I have not spoken to the reporter in recent past, who has contributed to the news item appeared in the Indian Express edition of today. As such the news item quoted me is totally incorrect I have taken up the above matter of misquoting with the Editor of Indian Express.


I would like to inform you that NPCIL today has 17 reactors, two of Light Water type and 15 of pressurized Heavy Water type which are in operations. Out of these reactors two light water units and 11 pressurized heavy water units are operating the remaining three have been taken out of operation for renovation, upgradation and maintenance works, 13 units are operating at various power levels to match the current uranium production.


I would like to bring out that the country has enough resources of natural uranium to support the operation of 10,000 MWe PHWR type units.


The mining and milling of the above resources are being taken up by the Department of Atomic Energy to match the progress on nuclear power plants. Work on additional mines and mills at Jaduguda was started around 2002 and is in final stages in the meantime three units of 1080 MWe, which were under construction, got completed faster before schedule Early completion of 3 units and certain delays in completion of additional mining/milling project created a mismatch between the demand (increase) and supplies of uranium to meet the situation innovative operating strategy has been worked out in order to keep maximum stations running and getting maximum possible power output.


I am happy to inform you that the mines have been commissioned and the processing mill has started trial production which will increase the production of the uranium and is expected to take care of the mismatch in the demand and supply.


For supporting the future expansion programme works on mining at Chitrial in Andhra Pradesh and Gogi in Karnatka has been take up. For further implementation of uranium supply, action has been initiated to start minning at Lambapur in Andhra Pradesh, Domiyasath in Meghalaya.


I hope the above gives the correct situation as it exists.