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Forcible displacement of Indian villagers to make way for unnecessary, uneconomic, nuclear reactors

The Kovvada Nuclear Reactor was to be built by US nuclear reactor maker, Westinghouse. But, in March 2017, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. The company was bled to death because of cost-escalations in two of the four nuclear power plants it designed and is constructing in the United States. “Kovvada will benefit only Westinghouse, and no one else. Not the people. Not India’s energy security,” said EAS Sarma, former Union Energy Secretary.

“India is being bamboozled by the multinationals into signing these agreements with foreign companies”

“It is not just the US, even Europe is not gung-ho about nuclear. So, Westinghouse and GE have very little business,” said Dr Sarma. “They are looking for a market and India is fertile ground of them” 

If nuclear energy is not as safe or inexpensive then why invest in it? “Because nuclear energy is a possible front for weaponisation

In Kovvada, villagers displaced forcibly even as the prospects of Westinghouse’s nuclear project remain uncertain, DiaNuke.org, JANUARY 19, 2018 Raksha Kumar | The News Minute

The coast curves through northern Andhra Pradesh and forms a giant U. Deep in the womb of this horseshoe lies Ranastalam mandal of Srikakulam district. During the light winter showers in November, this region takes on a darker shade of green. Small fishing villages are sprinkled across the uneven coast.

People here consider the vast sea their sole asset. “We have been fishermen for generations,” said Juggle Mailapally, ex-sarpanch of Chinna Kovvada village. “I was taught how to stitch a fishing net when I was 9,” he added.

Since 2008, when the Indo-US Nuclear Deal was signed, there have been rumours in the air about a giant nuclear plant taking over their idyllic existence. However only in 2015 did those rumours get confirmed.The District Collector of Srikakulam came to their village to talk to them about relocation, recollected Mailapally.

First, the villagers protested. Then they went on a year long hunger strike, which got the support of several political parties. However, their resilience proved to be weak in front of the government’s grit to see the project through.

Soon there will be six 1000MW nuclear reactors lining the coast. Over 2,074 acres in seven villages –  Kovvada, Ramachandrapuram, Gudem, Kotapalem, Maruvada, Tekkali and Jeerukovvada – will house the reactors, displacing about 10,000 people.

Lands acquired

While questions about the viability of the project still persist, people of Ranastalam have had to give up their lands. The Andhra Pradesh government announced in December 2017 that the land acquisition for the project was completed successfully.

In 2014, before the current Telugu Desam Party government was voted into power for the first time in divided Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu made a campaign promise to relocate the nuclear power plant from Kovvada and neighbouring villages. “Immediately after he was sworn in, he changed his stance,” said Mailapally.

After his election, efforts on the nuclear plant only accelerated. “Only TV channels owned by the opposition party showcase the hypocrisy and treachery,” said Rajesh of National Alliance for People’s Movements, who is researching the power plant. “Otherwise, the media is fairly jubilant about the project.”

According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017, the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) in India has been listed as “under construction” for a decade or more. “The average construction time of the latest 51 units in ten countries that started up in the past decade, since 2007, was 10.1 years with a very large range from 4 to over 43 years,” the report reads.

In Maharashtra, work is yet to begin on the Jaitapur Nuclear Plant whose agreement was signed in December 2010.

According to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013, if the government does not use the land acquired for the purposes it was taken, the lands should be returned to the people. “Since nuclear energy is seeing a downward slide across the world, most proposed nuclear plants are tentative. Might never be built at all,” said Dr K Babu Rao, retired scientist, IICT.

Acquiring lands to construct a nuclear facility has certain additional rules. Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is the national authority which is responsible for approving construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power facilities in the country.

As per the AERB guidelines, 1.6 kilometres from the periphery of the project’s rim is exclusive zone – no one can inhabit that zone. Beyond that, upto 30 kilometres, the place needs to be monitored and evacuation-ready. Even though people living within those 30-odd kilometres will be exposed to high doses of radiation, compensation is given only to those whose lands are taken away.

Add to this, India has a weak Civil Nuclear Liability law, which guarantees lower compensation in case of a disaster.

Seven hundred and ninety one acres of the required 2074 acres are government lands, therefore easier to acquire for the nuclear project. However, 684 acres are lands assigned to landless poor, with a condition that they be sold only to the government. And 599 acres are private lands………

Bankruptcy

The Kovvada Nuclear Reactor was to be built by US nuclear reactor maker, Westinghouse. But, in March 2017, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. The company was bled to death because of cost-escalations in two of the four nuclear power plants it designed and is constructing in the United States. “Kovvada will benefit only Westinghouse, and no one else. Not the people. Not India’s energy security,” said EAS Sarma, former Union Energy Secretary………

“India is being bamboozled by the multinationals into signing these agreements with foreign companies,” said Dr Sarma. Since the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US, when a Pennsylvania-based nuclear plant malfunctioned, the US has been cautious in using nuclear energy. “It is not just the US, even Europe is not gung-ho about nuclear. So, Westinghouse and GE have very little business,” said Dr Sarma. “They are looking for a market and India is fertile ground of them,” he added.

Westinghouse is not alone. In May 2015, weeks after Modi’s visit to France, a French company announced it was going into loss. Areva, the French nuclear reactor manufacturer, is to design the nuclear reactor in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. The French government is desperately trying to breathe life into Areva. “Again, it is in their favour to woo India. And India is being naive,” said Dr Sarma………

A more basic question remains in the minds of most villagers. Is the nuclear power plant necessary at all? Should we invest in nuclear energy?

As on date, nuclear power constitutes only 1.83% of the total installed electricity generation capacity in India. Moreover, nuclear energy generates only 3.23% of the total electricity. With renewable sources like solar and wind energy becoming cheaper, the moot question is should the country invest in nuclear energy at all?

“Since India is planning to depend heavily on such foreign reactor suppliers, the future trajectory of nuclear development in the country is going to be uncertain and highly expensive,” said Dr Sarma.

If nuclear energy is not as safe or inexpensive then why invest in it? “Because nuclear energy is a possible front for weaponisation,” said Sukla Sen, a Mumbai-based activist.

Villagers in Kovvada have no time to think about all that. They are busy trying to think alternate modes of employment in the villages they would have to move into. http://www.dianuke.org/kovvada-villagers-displaced-forcibly-even-prospects-westinghouses-nuclear-project-remain-uncertain/

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January 20, 2018 Posted by | India, indigenous issues, politics | Leave a comment

India again test-fires a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile

India successfully test-fires a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile

  • The nuclear-capable Agni-V ICBM was fired from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha at around 9:53 a.m. local time (11:23 p.m. ET on Wednesday)
  • The same missile has been tested five times over the past six years, with the most recent test prior to Thursday’s launch coming in December 2016
  • Relations between China and India deteriorated significantly in 2017, following a protracted border dispute in the western Himalayas
Sam MeredithIndia successfully launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday.

The nuclear-capable Agni-V ICBM was fired from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha at around 9:53 a.m. local time (11:23 p.m. ET on Wednesday).

India’s Defense Ministry said the test was a “major boost” to the country’s defense capabilities. The same missile has been tested five times over the past six years, with the most recent test prior to Thursday’s launch coming in December 2016. That test prompted exasperation from two of New Delhi’s most important continental rivals, China and Pakistan.

Relations between China and India deteriorated significantly in 2017, following a protracted border dispute in the western Himalayas. And given the world’s two biggest emerging economies are both equipped with nuclear weapons, observers were fearful of escalating geopolitical tensions……….https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/18/india-missile-new-delhi-successfully-tests-a-nuclear-capable-icbm.html

January 19, 2018 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Truck overturns, on its way to collect nuclear waste

Vehicle on way to bring nuclear waste topples in Karwar, TNN | Jan 18, 2018, Karwar: A multi-axle vehicle, which was going towards Kaiga to bring nuclear waste, met with an accident near Bole village in Karwar taluk on Wednesday afternoon. The trailer of the vehicle, which was loaded with an empty flask, separated and turned upside down.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) clarified that the flask was empty and there was no nuclear leakage. No one has been injured in the accident, NPCIL said. Sanjay Kumar, site director of Kaiga Generating Station, said that there is no effect on environment or human beings due to this accident.

This is second such accident involving vehicles meant for transporting nuclear waste between Karwar and Kaiga in the past three months. In October last year, one such vehicle fell into a gorge near Keravadi village.

The vehicle that met with accident on Wednesday had warning stickers to indicate that it was carrying radioactive material. These vehicles are used to transport the spent nuclear fuel which refers to the bundles of uranium pellets encased in metal rods that have been used to power a nuclear reactor. Nuclear fuel loses efficiency over time and becomes unable to keep a nuclear reaction going. Periodically, about one-third of the fuel assemblies in a reactor must be replaced……
Senior officials of Nuclear Power Corporation in Kaiga admitted that the lorry was going to Kaiga to bring the spent fuel……https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/vehicle-on-way-to-bring-nuclear-waste-topples-in-karwar/articleshow/62545123.cms

January 19, 2018 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

Stop nuclear power expansion – says Former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board

World is Abandoning Nuclear Power

with the whole world receding from setting up nuclear plants, by the time this “major powerhouse” is established in 4-6 years, where are the foreign orders for nuclear plant components going to come from? Or, are we planning to use tax-payers’ money to continually prop up the ailing big manufacturing industries in India by giving them nuclear power orders, whether we want nuclear power or not?

India Should Halt Further Expansion of its Nuclear Power Program The Citizen, –-A. GOPALAKRISHNAN [Dr A.Gopalakrishnan is former Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,Governmentof India. He welcomes discussions and comments from readers. They can contact him at his e-mail: agk37@hotmail.com]13 NOVEMBER, 2017

Nuclear safety is in jeopardy An overall evaluation of the status of the Indian civilian nuclear power sector, and the government’s uncertain future plans, do cause a great deal of concern for the welfare of the country and the safety of our people. Therefore, it is best to freeze all plans for the further expansion of this sector until Parliament and the public are provided full details of the government’s intentions and rationale and a national consensus is reached.

Background: The Indian civilian nuclear power program is ultimately administered by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) which reports to the Prime Minister.

The detailed policies, programs, and projects of both the civilian and military aspects of atomic energy are overseen and approved by a supra-powerful body called the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

 …… Once this group approves a program or gives a decision, no other entity like the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), who should be overseeing financial propriety in the Central Government expenditure or the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) which is responsible for project & public safety, will usually dare to question the AEC decision. This top-heavy administration of the nuclear program and the fear that it exudes is at the heart of most of the ailments of the nuclear sector.
Civilian Nuclear Program: In the almost 70 years since the constitution of our AEC in 1948, the total installed capacity of nuclear power in India has reached only 6,780 MWe, comprising 22 nuclear reactors. With a total installed electricity capacity of 315,426 MWe in the country, the nuclear share is thus a minuscule 2.15 % of it.
…….Of the operating reactors, some are very old and partially disabled and others are of dangerously outdated design which DAE is continuing to operate, though recommended by the original supplier to be permanently closed down.
We are still waiting for the very first1000 MWe AP-1000 reactor of Westinghouse and the very first 1650 MWe European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) of Areva to be commissioned anywhere in the world.In the meantime, the Westinghouse Co. has filed for bankruptcy in the US and Areva is in the middle of serious technical &financial difficulties, because of which the company has been sold to the French national electricity utility EDF.However, even before the Indo-US nuclear deal was signed, we had started building two VVER-1000 reactors with Russian collaboration, which have since been commissioned at Kudankulam in South India. The initial performance of the first of these two reactors is still not satisfactory, and the BJP had then agreed that apprehensions of the local population about the plant were genuine and the Centre should address the public’s issues. Notwithstandingthis, thegovernment had entered into an agreement to purchase four (4) more VVER reactors to be set up in the same site at Kudankulam…..

…….As part of the Indo-US nuclear Deal, India agreed in writing to purchase about 10,000 MWe of US power reactors and a similar package of French reactors, in return for the support of US & France at the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). The NSG ultimately permitted India to retain part of its military nuclear facilities outside of IAEA safeguards, while being allowed to place the rest under safeguards and regular international inspection
……..Preliminary agreements were discussed with Westinghouse Corporation and the General Electric Co. of the US, as well as with Areva of France as early as in 2009-2010, for purchasing their large light-water reactors (LWRs) which were then under development.

We are still waiting for the very first1000 MWe AP-1000 reactor of Westinghouse and the very first 1650 MWe European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) of Areva to be commissioned anywhere in the world.In the meantime, the Westinghouse Co. has filed for bankruptcy in the US and Areva is in the middle of serious technical &financial difficulties, because of which the company has been sold to the French national electricity utility EDF.

However, even before the Indo-US nuclear deal was signed, we had started building two VVER-1000 reactors with Russian collaboration, which have since been commissioned at Kudankulam in South India. The initial performance of the first of these two reactors is still not satisfactory, and the BJP had then agreed that apprehensions of the local population about the plant were genuine and the Centre should address the public’s issues. Notwithstandingthis, thegovernment had entered into an agreement to purchase four (4) more VVER reactors to be set up in the same site at Kudankulam…..

…..Post-Fukushima accident, such realities gave a spurt to shunning nuclear power generation and motivated several countries to seriously consider setting up renewable electricity systems in their countries. At last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Indian PM Modi also pledged that by 2022, India would set up 175 GW of renewable electric systems – 100 GW Solar, 60 MW Wind, 10 GW from Biomass and 5 GW from Small Hydro.

It should be noted that the delivered unit costs of electricity from solar, wind and other modes of renewable power generation have been falling rapidly in recent years and the PM’s decision could be timely for India. In India, as on March 31, 2017, the total installed solar electric power is 12,288 MW and the total installed wind power capacity is 32,280 MW. As of today, we seem to be on track to achieve PM Modi’s challenging target of 175 GW renewable powers by 2022. [Note that these MW numbers have to be associated with respective system load factors of — roughly 16-19% for solar, 20-23 % for on-shore wind and 30-41 % for off-shore wind, to obtain real-term busbar electricity one gets].

World is Abandoning Nuclear Power: Some of the countries, presently relying partly on nuclear power, are in the process of lowering or shedding the nuclear power component from their current portfolios.In France, for example, a law enacted in 2015 requires that the country should reduce nuclear power generation from the current figure of 75 % to 50% of the aggregate by 2025. This will mean shutting down 17 of the 58 nuclear reactors which their major utility EDF is presently operating.

It is, however, not finally confirmed that France will adhere to the 2025 deadline.Taiwan, on the other hand, is definite that all nuclear power in that country will be phased out by 2025. Japan has 54 nuclear reactors of which only 4 are operational now after the Fukushima accident. In view of the serious opposition by local governments and the nearby population, and in view of the tightened safety regulations, not more than 8 more reactors are likely to be re-started. In Russia, Rosatom’s Deputy General Director said in June 2017, that the world market for new nuclear plants is shrinking and possibilities for building new large reactors abroad are almost exhausted.

As against the above world trend, India appears to be blindly proceeding in the opposite direction.  On May 17 2017, India’s Union Cabinet approved the construction of 10 more 700 MWe PHWRs, in addition to four of the same kind which are presently approved for construction. The government press release says, “…With likely manufacturing orders of close to Rs. 70,000 crores to the domestic industry…it will be a major step toward strengthening India’s credentials as a major nuclear manufacturing powerhouse”.

But, with the whole world receding from setting up nuclear plants, by the time this “major powerhouse” is established in 4-6 years, where are the foreign orders for nuclear plant components going to come from? Or, are we planning to use tax-payers’ money to continually prop up the ailing big manufacturing industries in India by giving them nuclear power orders, whether we want nuclear power or not?

 Won’t Dump Westinghouse and Areva Reactors? The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), DAE and the government appear to be still entertaining periodic proposals and discussions regarding the purchase of the AP-1000 and the EPR reactors. No reactor of either kind has been started anywhere in the world. Today, China is regretting their foray into setting up two French EPRs and four AP-1000 reactors.
………Similarly, a senior representative told NPCIL and DAE that Westinghouse’s plans to set up six AP-1000 reactors in India are contingent on a change in the Nuclear Liability Law. He also said that Westinghouse will no longer take up the risk of building new nuclear plants and instead specialise in supplying parts and reactor engineering. Dr. Sekhar Basu, Secretary DAE, said last month that the Kovaada project in Andhra can still go ahead with Westinghouse supplying the reactor design and a different company taking up the construction. Everyone in the Indian nuclear establishment brims with confidence that India is capable of executing the detailed engineering, construction and commissioning of the complicated AP-1000 reactors in India without any assistance from abroad!……..
The state of nuclear reactor safety in India today is suboptimal to say the least. The agency which should be overseeing nuclear safety in India, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), has no standing as an independent entity, no direct access to the AEC or to any of the Parliamentary committees. The Chairman of the AERB reports to the AEC Chairman, whose instructions finally dictate the AERB’s actions. In contrast, the French nuclear regulatory body (the ASN) is created under a separate Act of the French Parliament and is answerable only to their Parliament.   http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/2/12239/India-Should-Halt-Further-Expansion-of-its-Nuclear-Power-Program

January 3, 2018 Posted by | India, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Pakistan and India exchange information on their nuclear installations and facilities.

Uneasy neighbors share information on nuclear facilities, http://www.mywabashvalley.com/news/uneasy-neighbors-share-information-on-nuclear-facilities/896851253, 2 Jan 18, ISLAMABAD (AP) — Uneasy neighbors Pakistan and India, who regularly trade gunfire in the disputed Kashmir region, are sticking to a 20-year-old agreement to exchange information on their nuclear installations and facilities.

In a statement Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the 1988 agreement requires each country to hand over the list on Jan. 1 each year, which the representatives of the two countries did on Monday. It has been adhered to every year since 1992, the statement said.

Although neither country is signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they both became declared nuclear powers after India conducted an underground nuclear weapons test in 1998 and Pakistan followed suit a few weeks later.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since the 1947 creation of Pakistan from a larger India.

January 3, 2018 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

India kickstarts process to build 6 nuclear-powered attack submarines

 Dec 01, 2017, NEW DELHI: India has kick-started an ambitious project to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines that is expected to boost the Navy’s overall strike capabilities in the face of China’s naval build-up and increasing military manoeuvring in the Indo-Pacific region. ………https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-kickstarts-process-to-build-6-nuclear-powered-attack-submarines/articleshow/61880118.cms

December 2, 2017 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Lobbyists scramble to market nuclear submarines to India

India Wants Second Nuclear Submarine From Russia. Lies By Lobbyists Erupt
Russian news portal Kommersant reported that the Indian Navy allowed a US technical crew into top secret compartments of India’s existing Russian-built nuclear submarine, the INS Chakra
NDTV  All India  by Vishnu Som : November 10, 2017 NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Russian website says US officials entered nuclear submarine in Vizag
  2. India has leased that submarine, is in talks for another
  3. Indian sources deny Russian website report
  India’s attempt to buy a nuclear attack submarine from Russia appears to have triggered a misinformation campaign by defence lobbyists.
Yesterday, Russian news portal Kommersant reported that the Indian Navy had permitted a US technical crew into top secret compartments of India’s existing Russian-built nuclear submarine, the INS Chakra, in clear violation of the terms of the contract between India and Russia. India leased this submarine in 2012 for approximately US$700 million and is in talks to acquire another.

According to Kommersant, which referred to this as “an unprecedented scandal,” the incident “threatens to seriously complicate the negotiations both on the lease of the second nuclear submarine, and on other projects in the field of military-technical cooperation.”

The Chakra, an Akula-2 class submarine, widely considered among the world’s most sophisticated, has been leased by India for 10 years but all ownership rights reside with Russia.

Today, another Russian news portal, NEWS.ru, has debunked the account of the Kommersant and states that French lobbyists have an ulterior role in spreading misinformation to further their own chances of selling a nuclear-powered attack submarine to India. NEWS.ru quotes a source stating “there is complete confidence that the throw-in is organised by the lobbyists of France, and it’s pretty high quality.” According to this source, “In addition to the contract for the construction of non-nuclear boats such the Scorpene [now being inducted by the Indian Navy,] the French have a great desire to enter the Indian nuclear fleet.”

France, the article states, is also aggressively trying to participate in India’s programme to construct a second home-grown aircraft carrier. The first indigenous carrier, INS Vikrant is being built in Kochi using technology from a host of countries including Russia……..

This isn’t the first time that there have been reports of the involvement of international lobbyists in influencing key Indian defence deals. Last year, The Australian newspaper revealed the leak of classified data on the Indian Navy’s French-designed Scorpene class submarine, the first of which will be commissioned into the navy by the end of this year.

At the time, the French newspaper Le Monde, quoting multiple sources had said that the leak of this data was driven by competition between the French designer of the Scorpene Class submarine and a  German firm as they compete  to win international orders. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/not-true-that-us-officers-allowed-on-russian-submarine-in-vizag-sources-1773761

November 11, 2017 Posted by | France, India, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

India -the frontline state in the climate change battle

How India’s battle with climate change could determine all of our fates, Guardian, Damian Carrington and Michael Safi , 6 Nov 17  India’s population and emissions are rising fast, and its ability to tackle poverty without massive fossil fuel use will decide the fate of the planet “It’s a lucky charm,” says Rajesh, pointing to the solar-powered battery in his window that he has smeared with turmeric as a blessing. “It has changed our life.”

He lives in Rajghat, a village on the border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states, and until very recently was one of the 240 million Indians who live without electricity. In the poverty that results, Rajghat has become a village of bachelors, with just two weddings in 20 years.

“No one wants to give their daughter to me,” says Sudama, another young man. “People come, they visit, but they see the conditions here and they leave.”

For now, the technology is proving most useful to Rajesh as a way to charge his mobile phone, saving a lengthy journey to the nearest city, but he also hopes for future benefits: “I’ll use this to let my children study.”

According to an ambitious pledge by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, every Indian will have electricity, and the education, health and business benefits that follow, by the end of 2018. But how Modi achieves that, and the development of what will soon become the world’s most populous nation, matters to the entire world.

 Of all the most polluting nations – US, China, Russia, Japan and the EU bloc – only India’s carbon emissions are rising: they rose almost 5% in 2016. No one questions India’s right to develop, or the fact that its current emissions per person are tiny. But when building the new India for its 1.3 billion people, whether it relies on coal and oil or clean, green energy will be a major factor in whether global warming can be tamed.

“India is the frontline state,” says Samir Saran, at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi. “Two-thirds of India is yet to be built. So please understand, 16% of mankind is going to seek the American dream. If we can give it to them on a frugal climate budget, we will save the planet. If we don’t, we will either destroy India or destroy the planet.”

This view is shared internationally: Christiana Figueres, the UN’s former climate chief who delivered the landmark Paris climate change agreement says India is “very, very important” for everybody, and the nation will play a key role at the UN summit that starts in Bonn, Germany next week………

There are signs of hope, however, driven by astonishing drops in the price of renewable energy in the last few years. Costs are falling faster than anyone predicted, with new record-low prices set this year for solar and wind. State governments can now pay less for clean energy than they pay for new coal power.

Mathur, who was the Indian delegation’s spokesman at the 2015 Paris climate summit, says that once batteries become powerful enough to store renewable energy for night time or when winds are weak, India’s energy emissions are likely to plateau and then fall. “I personally saw this happening around 2035, but in the past three years, that has shifted to 2025, driven by the news in the solar prices and the sharper than expected fall in the price of batteries.”

India’s government has now forecast that no new coal-fired power stations will need to be built for at least 10 years. By that time, Mathur argues, it will be cheaper to supply new demand using renewable power. “As [existing] coal plants retire they will be replaced by renewables, because that’s what makes economic sense.”……..

The whole world would benefit from a clean, green India and can help make it happen, says Stern, by bringing down the interest rates on the loans used to fund the low carbon transition: “The best thing the world could do is help bring down the cost of capital.” That means long term finance and help to cut project risks.

The path India’s chooses will affect the whole world and, despite the uncertainties and risks, the mood is optimistic, for a variety of reasons. “India has all the institutions of democracy and a very smart entrepreneurial class which will respond, and that gives me optimism,” says Saran……. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/06/how-indias-battle-with-climate-change-could-determine-all-of-our-fates

November 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, India | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear industry problems: repeated shutdowns at Kudankulam nuclear power plant

‘Maintenance shutdown’ at Kudankulam nuclear plant raises questions among activists http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/maintenance-shutdown-kudankulam-nuclear-plant-raises-questions-among-activists-70950, Unit 2 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant began operations in March and was shut down after a few weeks. Pheba Mathew

    , November 02, 2017 Under maintenance for the past three months, Unit 2 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant has had its restart date postponed multiple times. This has once again raised safety concerns among activists who claim that substandard equipment has been used and are demanding that the expansion of the nuclear plant be stopped.

The second reactor was shut down on August 4 due to hydrogen concentration in the stator. It was originally expected to restart generation on September 4. However, the restart date was postponed to October 7, then to November 3 and now to November 15.

SV Jinna, Site Director at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) has, however, blamed the delay on the overhaul of system.

With the 1000 MW second unit beginning commercial operations in March this year, activists wonder why the nuclear power plant had to be shut down so early on. “It is a very new plant. It has run only for a few weeks and such a plant need to be overhauled,” said G Sundarrajan, coordinator of Poovulagin Nanbargal, an NGO.

  • Arguing that the overall quality of different components and equipment used in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant is substandard, Sundarrajan points to the fact that the Russian Federal Prosecutors had in 2007 arrested the procurement director of ZiO-Poldolsk, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the country’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation on accusations of corruption. ZiO-Poldolsk was accused of knowingly selling inferior equipment manufactured for nuclear reactors. The same Russian company had supplied material and reactor parts to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

    But it’s not just Unit 2 that has faced maintenance problems.  Since its inception in 2013, the 1000 MW Unit 1 of KNPP has shutdown multiple times.

    The activist alleged that to camouflage the failures of Unit 1 and Unit 2, the project is being expanded further. “Unit 1 and 2 have already been a failure because they have used substandard components and the project was not properly implemented. They are trying to make Unit 3 and 4 a successful project because one and two will definitely die a natural death,” said Sundarrajan.

    Construction for units 3 and 4 is presently going on and is expected to become operational by 2022-23.

    Demanding that the Centre scraps the decision to expand the project, he explained, “The nuclear plant is itself a risky proposition. This is a nuclear park. Nowhere in the country do we have a nuclear park installed with 6000 MW power.”

  • While arguing that the government focus on renewable energy instead, he said, “Unit 1 and 2 has been installed but at least they should stop expanding. Second thing is disposing nuclear waste is becoming an issue in the entire world and there is no place to dispose it. Other countries are reducing use of nuclear power.”

    Meanwhile, NPCIL SK Sharma had justified he maintenance shutdown at Unit 2 stating that “certain uncertainties” could crop up in the initial days of a new reactor.

    Hitting out at the BJP and the previous Congress government, activist SP Udayakumar, who spearheaded the protests against the project in 2011, said, “They claimed it was brand new technology and started it. After five months, they are saying there could be some uncertainties once they start again. What is the real problem? Why can’t they tell us? They are accountable to the nation. The Congress and BJP government have been hiding all the irregularities.”

    Calling the government anti-people, Udayakumar said, “Thousands of people have been protesting against the Unit 1 and 2 for more than two-and-half years if there is any kind of respect for democracy, the central government should hear the people and stop it.”

  •  

November 3, 2017 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

India-USA nuclear arrangement just an American marketing effort – “dead at the very beginning”

India-US nuke deal signed without ground work: Ex-US Senator PTI|Oct 26, 2017, WASHINGTON: The landmark India-US civil nuclear deal was “dead at the very beginning” as it was signed without ground work, a former top Republican Senator has alleged, describing the agreement as more of an “arms deal” for American defence manufacturing companies.

Former Senator Larry Pressler, who has served as chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, told a Washington audience that the deal was much-praised “but there is no chance of it being implemented as the liability issues have not been addressed and it has not been worked through.”

He said that the India-US civil nuclear deal “was dead at the very beginning.

Pressler said that there was “no groundwork done” in India or the US on the civil nuclear deal.

The India-US nuclear cooperation agreement was signed in October 2008, ending India’s isolation by the West in the nuclear and space arena. The deal has given a significant boost to India’s nuclear energy production.

Pressler was speaking at an event organised by The Hudson Institute, a top American think-tank, to discuss his latest book ‘Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator s Quest for Disarmament in a Nuclear Subcontinent’.

“…There was nothing to it really. If you look into it, it is more of an arms sale agreement,” he alleged.

Pressler claimed the then US president Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi was “largely an arms sale trip”.

“The then president Obama’s last trip to India was an arms sales trip and the poor people of India have to pay for all of these new arms that their country is buying from the US. This is really one of us but it’s a new friendship we’re told. But we have to be very careful. I’m somewhat critical that India has accepted that on those terms,” the former American Senator said. …….https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-us-nuke-deal-signed-without-ground-work-ex-us-senator/articleshow/61236998.cms

October 27, 2017 Posted by | India, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

With its rapid growth in solar power, India now a leading clean energy generator

‘India plans big on solar, wind power’ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/india-plans-big-on-solar-wind-power/article19821527.ece SAKUNALA (KURNOOL DT.), OCTOBER 07, 2017 India has chalked out ambitious plans to generate 84 gigawatts of solar power and 32 gigawatts of wind power by 2022, asserted Anjali Jaiswal, India Director of Natural Resources Defence Council (NDRC), California, on Saturday.

“India is emerging as the world leader in generating clean energy, although it started by generating 17 MW of solar power in 2010, when Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission was launched,” Ms. Jaiswal told the media while inspecting the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park at Sakunala in Gadivemula mandal of Kurnool district, said to be the largest solar park in the world. Andhra Pradesh was in the forefront among other States in solar power generation by setting solar parks to generate 4,000 MW, she added.

There was a global push for clean energy owing to limitations such as coal availability and climate changes, Ms. Jaiswal said. The Paris Climate Agreement signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then US President Barack Obama in 2015 determined that 40% of non-fossil power must be generated by 2030. During his visit to California, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu held discussions with California Governor Jerry Brown and explained him about his plans to boost solar power, the NDRC Director said.

The NDRC has been working with the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Power since a decade and helped in design and identification of suitable locations for solar parks. It was working with Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, on building energy efficient buildings, working on curbing air pollution at Ahmedabad in Gujarat and heat action plan in 30 cities, including Hyderabad.

NDRC Renewable Lead Nehmat Kaur said the organisation was working in the US, China and India and has three million members. Its focus was on clean energy, climate resilience, air pollution and heat and air-conditioners having cooling with less warmth. The penetration of air-conditioners was 6% in India, where as it was 94% in China, Ms. Kaur said.

The rooftop market for solar power was mainly from the commercial and industrial sectors and some challenges like storage capacity remained in solar parks, Ms. Kaur stated. She advocated the concept of green banks and green bonds to mop up funds for solar power projects and added that they could attract international investors.

A.P. Solar Power Corporation Private Limited CEO G. Adisheshu explained about the 1,000 MW solar parks in Kurnool, Kadapa and Anantapur districts. A 1,000 MW solar park was proposed in Prakasam district besides an additional 500 MW plant in Anantapur. There were plans to set up two or three more solar parks in Kurnool district, he added. He gave a Power-point presentation on Kurnool ultra mega solar park. The NDRC team visited the Greenko office and the control room in the solar park.

 

October 27, 2017 Posted by | India, renewable | Leave a comment

Tamil Nadu: Union Ministry of Environment now allowing mining of thorium, uranium, in ecologically sensitive CRZ areas

Greed for atomic minerals to leave Tamil Nadu in peril, INDIAN EXPRESS, By Sv Krishna Chaitanya & Sushmitha Ramakrishnan  |  Express News Service   13th October 2017  CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has been the biggest victim of illegal beach sand mining in the country. As per the report submitted recently by senior lawyer and rights activist V Suresh, appointed as amicus curiae by Madras High Court in the case relating to illegalities in mining of beach sand minerals in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari, out of 1.5 crore  tonnes of raw sand mined between 2000 and 2017, 57 per cent had been mined illegally.

Now, the latest “horrific” amendment, as activists call it, to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 by Union Ministry of Environment, allowing mining of atomic minerals like uranium, thorium or titanium in ecologically sensitive CRZ areas, irrespective of whether they are available in non-CRZ areas or not, is only going to deliver a telling blow on the already under-stress Tamil Nadu coast.

As per the study titled “Coastal Mineral Mapping” done by researchers in Institute of Ocean Management (IOM) in Anna University, it is revealed that Tamil Nadu arguably has highest concentration of Monazite deposits in the country along its coastline that spans over 1,076 km. Monazite, an atomic mineral, contains 8-10 percent thorium, which is a nuclear fuel. This was India’s first exhaustive attempt to map and record all the natural minerals available, done is tandem with Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) of Department of Atomic Energy and funded by Environment Ministry. The beach sands of India — especially in Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh — are rich in several heavy minerals such as ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, garnet, sillimanite, zircon and monazite.

Supreme Court lawyer Ritwick Dutta, who is also the managing trustee of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, said the latest notification will compromise the integrity of the coast. “I can’t make sense of this notification. There is no consultation, there is no fixation on extraction of minerals. This will give a free run for miners to plunder India’s natural treasure. There is a pattern in what the Centre is doing. It is systematically weakening all the laws coming under Environment (Protection) Act, 1972. Firstly, construction projects were exempted from preparing EIA, later Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority was replaced with ‘toothless’ Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, where state authorities call the shots. Now, this mindless amendment to CRZ Notification, 2011.”………

Environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman says that Tamil Nadu has already been plundered violating CRZ norms. The intertidal, CRZ-1 areas were not spared even when there were laws. “Now, this is legitimising some of the wrongdoing done in the past and people have also lost their right to question the illegality.”

Environmental dangers

It’s not just the loss of precious minerals that should worry the States. Tampering of fragile coastline would also invite disasters like salt water intrusion,  qualitative and quantitative degradation of ground water……..

Health effects

While social and environmental consequences seem inevitable, Konstantine claimed that atomic mining has brought serious health complications to residents around the mines. “Since 1965, mining for radioactive minerals has been prominent in Kanniyakumari, particularly in Manavalakruchi. Studies in the neighbouring mines in Kollam have revealed that the effect of radiation has had a far reaching effect, up to 85 km,” he rued.

 He added that no comprehensive study has been brought to public forum about the health effects of these radiations. “The incidences of cancer has been rising over the decades and most victims from Manavalakuruchi and Midalam, approach the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram or the International Cancer Centre , by CSI Medical Mission at Neyyoor. “These cases are however are not mapped back to radioactivity,” he said claiming that the incidence of the disease is relatively lower the farther one lives from atomic mining areas……..

Alarm bells ringing

  • Activists say the resources could end up in foreign soil owing to lack of state-run companies’ expertise in handling such rare-earth minerals
  • Mining for radioactive minerals can contribute to cancer among those in the vicinity of the project
  • Tampering of fragile coastline would also invite disasters like salt water intrusion, leading to degradation of ground water. They say there are many areas in the State already battling such issues due to unscientific construction
  • Activities like coral mining, beach sand mining and other dredging activities are highly harmful and contribute to sea erosion http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2017/oct/13/greed-for-atomic-minerals-to-leave-tamil-nadu-in-peril-1672778.html

October 14, 2017 Posted by | environment, India, thorium | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka enforces UN resolution on nuclear and biological weapons

 Colombo Gazette 7 Oct 17 The Government has issued a gazette against the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and other related activities in line with United Nations regulations…….

Any person who or group or entity which manufactures, acquires, possesses, develops, transports, transfers or uses nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery within Sri Lanka, will be seen as committing an offence under these regulations and shall on conviction by the High Court, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a period not exceeding twenty years or a fine not exceeding five million rupees or both such fine and imprisonment.

Any person who or group or entity which participates in manufacturing, acquiring, developing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery as an accomplice or assists or finances them commits an offence under these regulations and shall on conviction by the High Court, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a period not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding one million rupees or both such fine and imprisonment.

A person shall not make available any funds, other financial assets and economic resources and financial or other related services directly or indirectly to, or for the benefit of, a person, group or entity to manufacture, acquire, develop, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery or for the purposes to proliferate nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon related materials…….

There shall for the purpose of these regulations, be a Competent Authority who shall be appointed by the Minister in consultation with the Minister assigned the subject of Defence. (Colombo Gazette) http://colombogazette.com/2017/10/07/government-issues-gazette-against-nuclear-chemical-weapons/

October 9, 2017 Posted by | India, politics, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Health effects of uranium mining in India

Radiation in uranium mines People working in nuclear power plants face considerable health hazards. http://www.millenniumpost.in/opinion/radiation-in-uranium-mines-264457?utm_source=web-social-share&utm_partner=mpost&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=facebook Arun Mitra |  2 Oct 2017, Nuclear energy is being projected as the panacea for the energy crisis in our country. It is true that we have acute shortage of electricity which is so essential for development. But there has been debate around the globe whether nuclear energy is the answer. There is evidence to prove that It is fraught with dangers right from digging of its ore – the uranium, to its transport to the nuclear power plants, hazards involved in its utilisation in nuclear facilities and lastly its waste management. There have been many accidents worldwide in the nuclear facilities which have been of extremely serious nature. The Three Mile island accident in 1979, the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. In India, too, several low-level accidents have occurred but they have gone unreported because there is no transparency in the nuclear energy industry and it is not covered under the RTI act.
A large number of workers are involved at every step of nuclear energy. Since nuclear energy is directly linked to radiations, it is important to examine if the workers or their families living in and around these facilities have any associated health problems. The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) had conducted a study on the health status of indigenous people around Jadugoda uranium mines situated in Jharkhand. The study was conducted under the leadership of Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman, who at present the General Secretary of IDPD.
All mining operations have related occupational health and safety hazards. Uranium mines present another hazard to workers and to members of the public. That is a radiation hazard. There are three types of exposure paths in the surrounding of uranium mine. Uranium mining and milling operations produce dust and gas (radon) having radioisotopes that are inhaled by miners and deliver internal radiation.
Through the ingestion of uranium series radioisotopes, transported in surface waters discharged from the mine delivering an internal radiation.  The gamma-ray exposure by approaching tailing ponds or mine-tailings. The population living around the Jadugoda uranium mines was found to be suffering from following health effects:
Congenital Deformities: The investigation showed that babies from mothers, who lived near the uranium mining operation area, suffered a significant increase in congenital deformities. While 4.49 per cent mothers living in the study villages reported that children with congenital deformities were born to them, only 2.49 per cent mothers in reference villages fell under this category. The study when seen in this background reveals that people with disabilities in the study villages are significantly more than the all India average. Moreover, increased number of children in the study villages are dying due to congenital deformities. Out of mothers who have lost their children after birth, 9.25 per cent in the study villages reported congenital deformities as the cause of death of their children as compared to only 1.70 per cent mothers in the reference villages. The result shows that children born to mothers who lived near uranium mining operational area are more likely to die due to congenital deformities.
Primary Sterility: For the study purpose, the criteria of primary sterility were laid down to be a married couple not having conceived for at least three years after the marriage, and not using any method of contraception. The result shows that while 9.60 per cent of couples in study villages have not conceived even after three years of marriage, only 6.27 per cent of couples from reference villages fell under this category. The finding demonstrates that couples living near uranium mining operational area are approximately 1.58 times more vulnerable to primary sterility.
Cancer: On being asked the cause of last death in the household, 2.87 per cent households in the study villages attributed the cause of death to be cancer, whereas, 1.89 per cent households in reference village fell under this category. The study reveals that cancer as a cause of death among people living near uranium mining operational area is significantly high.
Life Expectancy: The study shows that increased numbers of people living near uranium mining operational area are dying before completing 62 years of age. The average life expectancy in the state of Jharkhand is 62 years. The study shows that 68.33 per cent the of deaths in the study villages were happening before attaining 62 years of age, whereas 53.94 per cent deaths were reported in reference villages under this category. The findings are discerning and the difference is significant. Other variables: The study tried to look at a few other health variables as well, like prevalence of spontaneous abortion among married women, stillbirths, and chronic lung diseases. The prevalence of all these health variables was definitely more in the study villages as compared to reference village, but the results were statistically not significant. (Dr. Arun Mitra is a leading ENT specialist based in Ludhiana. He is the Senior Vice-President of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) and is presently a member of the core committee of Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Health care in India. Views expressed are personal.)

October 4, 2017 Posted by | health, India, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarine accident – India’s nuclear-powered submarine, INS Chakra, damaged

India’s Nuclear Submarine Chakra Suffers Damage In Accident https://defenceaviationpost.com/indias-nuclear-submarine-chakra-suffers-damage-accident/  New Delhi: In a setback to the Indian Navy, nuclear-powered submarine, INS Chakra, has met with an accident and being repaired to rectify “some damage” in sonar dome, media report said.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment