(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 30, 2011
Nuclear Deal Outcome:
Stop Import of Nuclear Plants
nuclear deal was heralded
as opening a new chapter in Indo-US relations and a major
step towards assuring
energy security for the country. Thanks
to this deal, it was claimed that electricity would be
available to all houses
and villages in the country. In order to justify the deal,
it was projected
that 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power is to be installed by
2020 and that
would require importing nuclear reactors on a large scale. The Manmohan Singh
government gave a
commitment in writing to the Bush administration that it
would buy nuclear
reactors of 10,000 MW capacity from the
Two years since
the nuclear deal was
concluded, there is a different reality.
The nuclear deal does not appear to be what it was
purported to be. One
by one, the false claims of the Manmohan Singh government
CPI(M) and the Left had
pointed out that the assurance given by the prime minister
that the nuclear deal
will open the way for full nuclear cooperation was baseless. The bilateral
agreement for the civil nuclear
cooperation with the
Soon after the
nuclear deal was
concluded, the government announced five nuclear parks where
reactors would be set-up.
agreement was signed with the French company, Areva, to buid
two 1,650 MW
reactors at Jaitapur. This
is the first
of the nuclear parks, where eventually six reactors are to
be set-up. These
are reactors of a new type – the
European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). It has not yet been
The Manmohan Singh government, in order to show the successful outcome of the nuclear deal, is committing to spent over Rs 2 lakh crore for the French nuclear reactors in Jaitapur. The government is not divulging the actual cost of the reactors. This untested technology bought at astronomical prices will mean that the cost of electricity produced will be not less than Rs 20 crore per MW. This means electricity produced here would cost Rs 7 to 8 per unit. The cost for the Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) is Rs 8 to 9 crores per MW. The people living in the area around Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district have been protesting against the Jaitapur project from the outset. Apart from the displacement, there are genuine concerns about the environmental hazards and the safety of the nuclear project.
Jaitapur, the government
is proceeding to set-up nuclear parks in Chhaya Mithi Virdi
In Mithi Virdi, people of fifty coastal villages, who will be directly affected by the nuclear plant, have decided to fight against the land being acquired. They have been resisting all efforts to get the site acquired. In Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, the local people have begun to organise to oppose the nuclear plant to be set-up. In all these areas, a significant feature is that political parties irrespective of their affiliations are supporting the struggle.
At the time of the
nuclear deal, the
CPI(M) and the Left had strongly argued that the import of
nuclear reactors for
power generation would be costly and unsustainable. When
In order to fulfill its commitments made in the nuclear deal, the Manmohan Singh government took another unconscionable step – it had promised to pass a civil nuclear liability law which would provide immunity to foreign nuclear suppliers from any liability claims. The government tried to pass such a legislation, but due to the vigilance of the Left in particular and the Opposition, it could not avoid a clause which gave recourse to the operator to make the foreign supplier liable in case a manufacturing defect or substandard equipment led to an accident. The chicanery involved to nullify this clause, after the standing committee had adopted it, was exposed.
Even this limited
clause is being
objected to by the
The grand design of the Manmohan Singh government for dotting the country with imported giant nuclear reactors is coming up against a wall of resistance. In Jaitapur, Mirthi Virdi, Kovvada and Kudankulam, the people have declared in no uncertain terms that they want to have nothing to do with the nuclear parks. Their struggle will be supported by the overwhelming sections of the Indian people.
The recently constituted National Committee for Solidarity with Jaitapur is an expression of this support. While the struggle in Jaitapur is to be immediately taken up as it is the most glaring example of unconcern for the people and the cost to the country, steps will have to be taken to make the struggle against all the foreign nuclear parks a national one.
The Manmohan Singh government should heed the voice of the people and halt forthwith all plans to import nuclear power plants. Along with this, the Regulatory Authority to be set-up to oversee the safety of nuclear plants has to be genuinely independent and autonomous, unlike the bill presented in parliament for this purpose. There has to be a safety review of all existing nuclear plants and this must be conducted by an independent committee. Only this will assure the people.