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Indian government’s dangerous rush to get nuclear power

the Indian government  tried to limit liability to only if it could be proved that a supplier had done an act ‘with the intent to cause nuclear damage’. This astounding insertion left a huge loophole for contractors doing shoddy work to wriggle out of paying any damages if things go wrong………Given India’s pervasive culture of poor management and corruption, Mr Singh’s government should think carefully before plunging headlong into a risky track from which there is no going back.

Dangers in India’s path to nuclear energy, THE BUSINESS TIMES, By YOGI AGGARWAL, August 31, 2010, THERE have been few acts by the Indian government in recent months that have given rise to as many misgivings as its attempt to push through the nuclear liability Bill. Passed after some crucial changes, introduced at the behest of the parliamentary opposition, a sly attempt was made to rush through the Bill after inserting words that effectively nullified what had been agreed on.
While the government had accepted 18 amendments, including raising the liability cap from five billion rupees (S$144 million) to 15 billion rupees, it tried to limit liability to only if it could be proved that a supplier had done an act ‘with the intent to cause nuclear damage’. This astounding insertion left a huge loophole for contractors doing shoddy work to wriggle out of paying any damages if things go wrong. So great was the opposition anger that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to stand in Parliament and deny that ‘this has been done to promote American corporations’.

Yet this was precisely many Indians believe about the Bill………
the country’s nuclear energy programme had been a white elephant, devouring resources but delivering little. Secrecy surrounding India’s nuclear energy effort, which was also linked to its clandestine (until 1998) nuclear weapons ambitions, made it difficult to figure out how much was being spent on nuclear energy…….

The major suppliers and main contractors are likely to be GE and Westinghouse (now owned by Toshiba) from the US, Areva of France and Atomstroyexport of Russia. While 80 per cent of the electricity in France is nuclear generated, the last power reactor was ordered in the US in 1977 and commissioned in 1990. It is only this year, after more than 30 years, did President Barack Obama restart the US nuclear energy effort.

While nuclear accidents are rare, when they do happen they can be disastrous……

by the time all the new nuclear power plants are commissioned, they will generate only around 10 per cent of India’s electricity; this cannot be seen as a long-term solution to India’s energy needs.

There is a further danger that is often pushed under the carpet. Nuclear waste can be dangerously radioactive for tens of thousands of years. No one has found a satisfactory solution to this hazard.

Given India’s pervasive culture of poor management and corruption, Mr Singh’s government should think carefully before plunging headlong into a risky track from which there is no going back. Dangers in India’s path to nuclear energy – August 31, 2010

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August 31, 2010 - Posted by | India, politics | , , , , , , , ,

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