Nuclear Power: Achilles Heel of Narendra Modi Part II

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By Buddhi Kota Subbarao*            Part I                                              

Contest of Competing Wolves

According to Che Guevara, capitalism is a contest between competing wolves. India has become the competing ground for such wolves, more so in the matter of selling nuclear power plants.  Many are the direct and indirect actions of these competing wolves to compel India to pave the way for smooth selling of nuclear power plants to India. The hidden hand of these competing wolves is a notable contributing factor for the signing of recent Australian uranium sales deal with India .

US Westinghouse, US GE and Japan's Toshiba Corp are jointly arrayed to sell nuclear power plants to India. Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, is a group company of  Toshiba Corporation of Japan. Westinghouse is looking forward to building 6,000 MW of nuclear power projects in Gujarat. During the Gujarat Global Investors' summit in 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a 6000 MW Nuclear Power plant in village Mithi Virdi, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, was signed by the Government of Gujarat (GOG) with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) a Government of India company. Westinghouse, USA AP1000 reactors are slated for the Mithi Virdi site which is just a few kms away from ALANG Shipbreaking Yard. The total cost will not be less than rupees one lakh crores. Similarly a nuclear power park of 9,500 MWe capacity is slated to come up at Kovvada, in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh, with GE reactors made in the US and the cost is expected to be over rupees one lakh crores.

AREVA a French multinational group specializing in nuclear and renewable energy is striving to set up nuclear power plants in India. Areva signed on 4 February 2009, an MOU to supply two to six nuclear reactors to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited , for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in the state of Maharashtra. The then chairman of Nuclear Power Corporation S.K.Jain said the six reactors would be worth 600 billion rupees ($12.3 billion) in total, but it was not clear then whether this included engineering works or if it was the price for the reactors alone. O n 6 December 2010, France and India signed a General Framework Agreement between French nuclear major Areva and Nuclear Power Cooperation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for building two European pressurised reactors (EPR) in Jaitapur. But some issues, including the price of these reactors and differences over India's civil nuclear liability law, are yet to be sorted out before the commercial contract is executed. Now serious negotiations are going on between the French and Indian sides about the price of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park slated to host two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MWe each, with possible extension by four additional units and the total cost of Jaipur nuclear park will be over rupees one lakh crores.

The total cost of the two Russian VVER 1000 MW nuclear reactors under commission and two more slated for installation at Koodankulam, Tamil Nadu would be above rupees Rs.60,000 crores. However, it may not be fair to count Russia among the now competing wolves in India in the field of nuclear power plants. When the United States, United Kingdom and France were not prepared to share nuclear submarine technology with India, the then USSR was approached by India in the eighties and USSR agreed to help India with nuclear submarine technology. In the arrangement that followed India agreed to pay the then USSR for nuclear submarine technology and also for some nuclear power plants. That was how Koodankulam nuclear power plant came into existence. 

Subsequently, the foreign nuclear power plant suppliers are allotted spots in India. In that allotment - Russia has been allotted two spots (Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu; and Haripur in Purba Medinipur district, West Bengal), France one spot (Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra), and the United States two spots (Kovvada in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh; and Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat). The total investment in all such proposed nuclear power plants would be more than rupees five lakh crores.

The present total Nuclear Power Plant Capacity of India is 4780 MWe which is about  3 % of the total electricity generation in the country. NPCIL site shows that DAE/NPCIL vision is to achieve 20,000 MWe by the year 2020. Beyond 2020, the optimistic projections of  DAE/NPIL are 63000 MWe by 2030, 131000 MWe by 2040 and 275000 MWe by 2050. NPCIL site also states that in energy terms, the Integrated Energy Policy of India estimates share of nuclear power in the total primary energy mix to be between 4.0 to 6.4% in various scenarios in the year 2031-32. The study by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), estimates the nuclear share to be about 8.6% by the year 2032 and 16.6% by the year 2052.

United States, Japan and France are coxing and compelling India to climb-up quickly on the nuclear electricity curve. This they do, with an effectively articulated misrepresentation that nuclear energy is clean, safe and cheap. At the same time United States, Japan and France are investing heavily on wind and solar and other renewable energy sources. Their strategy is to sell potentially dangerous nuclear power plants to countries like India and use the money to invest in their own countries to boost wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. If this sounds hypothetical, listen to what Barack Obama said to his fellow Americans.

To be concluded ...

* Buddhi Kota Subbarao is former Indian Navy Captain with Ph.D. in nuclear technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and practising advocate of Supreme Court of India. His e-mail address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. '; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text36027); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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