New Delhi: The India-US
nuclear deal should be scrapped as there is no justification,
technically or economically, for importing over the next two decades
American light water reactors to generate 40,000 MW of electricity,
former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) chairman A.
Gopalakrishnan said Sunday.
Gopalakrishnan said the US wanted to revive its moribund nuclear
industry by selling its reactors to India and eventually stop this
country's indigenous nuclear programme, which successive prime
ministers had been nurturing for decades to utilise thorium
resources through fast breeder reactors.
The nuclear deal, signed in October 2008, gained momentum after
Manmohan Singh became the prime minister in 2004, he said.
Throughout the years of deliberations on the India-US nuclear deal,
the AERB was also kept out of the loop and not even consulted on the
safety and reliability of reactors to be imported, said
Gopalakrishnan in a press release here.
The prime minister's office (PMO) spearheaded an informal alliance
of few key politicians, American and Indian corporate sectors and
their federations interested in profiteering from the Indian nuclear
power business, along with a coterie of top-level officials, who
collectively helped the prime minister all along to make a baseless
case for import of reactors, Gopalakrishnan said.
"This collective (group) also successfully kept parliament and the
people of India deliberately in the dark throughout this
decision-making process, under the cover of the Official Secrets
Act, which is unnecessarily being applied to this civilian nuclear
power sector, mainly to hush up the irrational policy decisions and
questionable financial deals between the government and the
corporate business houses," he said.
The central government has never presented a document on India's
nuclear power policy for debate, notwithstanding repeated demands
from various quarters, including parliament, he said.
The prime minister stated March 29 that India owed its capabilities
in all the scientific and technological aspects associated with
nuclear reactors to "the success of the indigenous three-stage
programme whose foundation was laid by Dr. Homi Bhabha".
Singh was referring to India's present capability to design and
build up to 700 MW capacity pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs),
Indian PHWRs were the most efficient plutonium producers, far
superior to the high burn-up light water reactors (LWRs) which the
department of atomic energy (DAE) was planning to import, said
"We have complete mastery of PHWR technology, with three generations
of engineers and scientists who have been trained in all facets of
related activities, with existing full capabilities for its
manufacture and fabrication within Indian industries."
Gopalakrishnan pointed out that with proven indigenous expertise of
having designed, built and operated 17 PHWRs up to 540 MWe capacity,
besides another four 700 MWe PHWR under construction, there was no
reason why India had to diversify its nuclear fleet to include
several new types of foreign reactors, of which neither Indians nor
foreigners have any experience so far.
"Today we have the inherent indigenous ability to further extend the
PHWR designs to 1000 MWe rating. As for costs, a 700 MWe PHWR can be
built at a cost of Rs.8 crore per MWe, while a 1,650 MWe French
European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at Jaitapur will cost the
taxpayer more than Rs.21 crore per MWe.