People's Democracy

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


No. 8

March 01, 2009


CAG Report Exposes The Nuclear Dealers

Dipankar Mukherjee

Fuel shortage crippling India�s nuclear power plants, most of which are currently running at half capacity�, was the seething headline in The Indian Express on its front page on October 29, 2007. That is how a case was built up through corporate media, both print and visual, by the Congress-led UPA government to mislead the Indian people about the imperativeness of rushing for the so-called nuclear deal with the US. The argument was that as the country was facing serious shortage of uranium � the fuel required for running the nuclear power plants � the deal with US is an absolute must to facilitate the import of uranium.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in parliament on February 20, 2009 exposes not only the factual position of India�s own uranium reserves but also the deceit and deception displayed by the Bush-lovers in India to hoodwink the people in the name of nuclear renaissance and nuclear isolation. More appalling, if not reprehensible, is the criminal silence of the Congress party and the drum-beaters of nuclear deal in the media on the latest revelations in the CAG report which categorically says �despite the existence of uranium reserves to support the present (Heavy Water Reactor) programme up to 2020, India�s capacity for generation of nuclear power has been compromised for want of uranium�.



When the above mentioned news item appeared in The Indian Express, the CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP, Tapan Sen, sought clarification on the same day from the chairman and managing director (CMD) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) in the light of CMD�s statement in company�s Annual General Meeting on August 3, 2007 wherein he had assured that the capacity factor of 63 per cent of nuclear plants would improve further by September 2007. In response, the CMD, NPCIL, replied on August 30, 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 quoting me is totally incorrect. I have taken up the above matter of misquoting with the editor of the paper.

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 pressurised 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.�

However, the CMD of NPCIL did not send the above rejoinder to The Indian Express. Why? Because on the one hand he was echoing the canard being spread by the nuclear lobby that import of uranium is immediately required to keep the nuclear power plants running. On the other hand officially he was not prepared to furnish a fudged figure of uranium availability. That part was left to the nuclear-illiterate media and legal experts of the Congress party, one of who recently recommended �Bharat Ratna for Bush�. Bush was shown the door by the people of United States for numerous misdeeds including the one of misleading the Americans that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to justify his aggression on Iraq. The Indian people also will not spare the �nuclear ratnas� of India who misled them in the name of nuclear power and fuel to push a strategic alliance with USA with India as its junior partner.



As a matter of fact way back in 1998 the then secretary of Department of Atomic Energy Dr R Chidambaram had stated before the parliamentary standing committee on energy the following (as reported in the Standing Committee report placed in Parliament in July 1998):

��the amount of uranium resources that we have is equivalent to something like 1.2 billion tonnes of coal which can be raised to 100 billion tonnes equivalent, if you go through the fast breeder route and if you are able to be successful in that. Then if you can develop the cycle, we have something like 600 to 1000 billion tonnes coal equivalent. It is a very difficult technology which would require an enormous amount of R&D.�

Who stopped the succeeding governments of NDA and UPA to explore these resources for the sake of �energy security� and �clean energy� - words which were so frequently used by Dr Manmohan Singh to justify the nuclear deal? By this delay in tapping our own uranium reserves, we now forced to import uranium whose cost has shot up by five to six times since 2000. Who is responsible for this criminal inaction?

The recent CAG report has flayed the UPA government in no uncertain terms for this serious act of omission in exploration of uranium which �denied the nation the full benefits of clean nuclear energy to the extent of 21,485 million units corresponding Rs 5996 crore�. In other words even without the nuclear deal 40 million more homes could have been lit up for an entire year in power-starved India if the prime minister and his nuclear men had planned for mining and using the extensive uranium reserves in the country instead of spending nation�s precious time and energy in lobbying for the so-called �nuclear deal�.

It is not a question of mere financial audit, but a bigger question of political audit of the UPA government by the people of this country for wilfully creating a nuclear illusion only to facilitate the unholy strategic nexus with US. The Congress party and its media drum beaters � �the walk the talkers� � cannot escape such an audit before the people.

A recent paper titled �The Nuclear Illusion� by Amory B Lovens and Imran Shaikh, says:

After a half-century of intense effort to make nuclear power competitive, the market�s verdict is unforgiving. Nuclear salespeople scour the world for single orders despite lavish and rising subsidies ��

Political audit is done by people of a country and not the market. The Indian people�s verdict for the nuclear-dealers and the Bush-lovers of the country, come this general election, will be equally unforgiving, to say the least.