deadly and costly game is being perpetuated upon innocent Indian lives by the government of India. While we would not like to go into the technical aspects too much, it has become pretty obvious to any observer that the nuclear establishment has pushed India into an extremely precarious situation. To use the term “dangerous” is mild – because the government and the nuclear establishment have pushed not only India but also its neighboring countries towards disaster.
In August 2012, the CAG released a scathing report on the functioning of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India (AERB). Essentially what the report said was:
“The legal status of AERB continued to be that of an authority subordinate to the Central
Government, with powers delegated to it by the latter.”
So how would you feel if the police handled the courts too or if you mobile phone operator made his own laws and regulation? Obviously there would be a conflict of interest and no sane person can imagine that the regulations would be fair or trustworthy.
This is what Dr. A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).said about the report: “In India, safety and promotion are under one roof.” Both the AERB, which is entrusted with the task of conducting safety audits, and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which sets up nuclear plants, report to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
More recently on Saturday February 16th 2013, Dr. Gopalakrishnan said ““The decision (to order foreign reactors) was merely a quid-pro-quo to give business to the reactor manufacturers in those countries which helped India get a Nuclear Supply Group (NSG) waiver,” and that a conservative estimate of Rs. 20 crores per MWe for importing these reactors during next 20-25 years would cost tax-payer about Rs. 8,00,000 crores.
To put these figure in perspective, only about Rs. 34,488 crores as allocated in the last budget to heath care.
A look at these figures may surprise you:
Health Expenditure as % of GDP
$ 2.49 trillion
$ 1.85 trillion
$ 1.67 trillion
$ 7.29 trillion
$ 408.07 billion
*Approximate GDP data as on 2011 and Health Expenditure data as on 2009.
Source: World Bank, BRICS: Brazil Russia India China, South Africa
The above figures does not factor in the cost of de-comissioning these un wanted reactors nor the cost of storing the nuclear waste for over many centuries. It also does not take in the cost of re-processing the spent (used) nuclear fuel.
What a colossal national waste of resources which India is indulging into. Money that should go into health care and education is being spent on opaque nuclear deals worth lakhs of crores are being spent on a dubious energy source that will not benefit social development but further increase the appetite for more electricity. Rather than speaking about conservation of electricity, the PM and the Planning Commission have made it a mission to target higher electricity consumption in the coming few years.
What is the priority? To provide for sufficient, safe and sustainable power to the billions of Indians living in the hinterland or to build massively expensive and dangerous nuclear plants for the consumption of the elite and the upper class?
But then, who is benefitting from this?
Clearly, the politicians know how to earn their bread, butter, jam (and much more) from such deals. The bureaucrats are in line with the political bosses because that’s where their bread and butter comes from. The big industrialists benefit from the large contracts they bag. The foreign companies for whom India is a sitting duck because it is over hundred per cent corrupt. The foreign govenments of Russia, France, USA who offer the carrot of cheap military hardare ONLY if India signs nuclear deals with them. And countries like Australia for whom selling uranium fuel to other countries is “lucrative business” but has taken a poition that it will not have nuclear energy in its own country.
All this has now become such a well oiled chain that everyone is indulging into a dangerous game of “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours”. Despite the learnings from Chernobyl and recently from Fukushima in Japan, the only intent of the government of India appears to be to garner as much money (over or under the table) by signing dubious nuclear deals without any proper study or a sense of necessity for them. Most of the nuclear power plants being put up and planned in India would have not passed the muster in any western country here there is still some modicum of shame. But in India, it has become clear that the government and the nuclear establishment have chosen to brazenly lie about the true facts, the costs, the cost-benefit analysis, the environmental impact studies and much more.
Why should ordinary Indians take this type of incessant danger lying down?
Sample this from a statement made by Ratan Kumar Sinha, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission even as villagers panicked about radiation leaks at the Koodankulam nuclear power plant last week and ran helter-skelter for cover:
"These are baseless rumours being spread to create panic among the citizens living near the plant. No blast has occurred”
This is an absolutely shameful admission by the Department of Atomic Energy that there is no real emergency preparadness plans at Koodankulam, there have not been sufficient mock drills and there is really nowhere the people can be evacuated to.
Do they even know the costs of rehabilitation and compensation (i.e. if it is EVER given to those affected)?
More interestingly, would these same people allow their families and children be exposed to such grave dangers? They obviously know the hazards and that is the reason their on staff quarters are far removed from the reactors, while the local contract workers are given housing in close proximity of the nuclear facility.
But then this statement as reported in media is a bigger shocker:
KNPP site director R.S.Sundar reacting to the charges of technical faults in the Koodankulam plant, said, “We cannot say technically everything is alright."
If the top bosses in the Indian nuclear establishment can easily get away with such blatant statements even when it is publicly known that NPCIL is forced to do a second test on the equipment because the first one was not successful. The valves, the pressure, controls etc malfunctioned and in a face saving gesture engineers were flown in from all parts of the world to fix the problems.
Why is this government undertaking these huge cost over-runs, delays and putting hundreds of thousands of innocent people at risk?
And people are more concerned because they have seen in the past that disaster relief does not come in any timely manner, nor is rehabilitation achieved and the lesser said about ANY compensation is better.
So the only agenda that the government is pursuing is a defense and economic agenda – at a ridiculous cost. One can only reach the conclusion that greed for more power and money is so huge in the nuclear establishment that they prove the adage right –
“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”