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Old Plans, Handouts, New Spin

In May 2017, the union cabinet approved the construction of 10 more 700 megawatt pressurised heavy water reactors. A careful reading of this largely public relations spin on existing plans suggests that it chiefly hopes to persuade the Nuclear Suppliers Group to accept India as a member and attract capital that aims to profit from supplying components for nuclear power plants. Given our track record, the prospects of it adding to the role of nuclear power in India appear bleak.

Old Plans, Ongoing Handouts, New Spin

In May 2017, the union cabinet approved the construction of 10 more 700 megawatt pressurised heavy water reactors. A careful reading of this largely public relations spin on existing plans suggests that it chiefly hopes to persuade the Nuclear Suppliers Group to accept India as a member and attract capital that aims to profit from supplying components for nuclear power plants. Given our track record, the prospects of it adding to the role of nuclear power in India appear bleak.

Cost of Electricity from the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant

The Indian government has announced that it plans to purchase six European Pressurised Reactors for Jaitapur from the French company, Areva. No EPR is in commercial operation anywhere else in the world. Estimates of costs from plants under construction in Finland and France suggest that each unit may cost as much as Rs 60,000 crore; at this price, six units will cost Rs 3.6 lakh crore. The paper shows that the expected starting tariff for electricity from these reactors, without including transmission and distribution costs, is likely to be around Rs 15 per unit (kWh). The existing revenue model used by the government already involves a large loss for the taxpayer. The government may seek to make the tariff from Jaitapur competitive by increasing the scope and nature of these handouts.

Behind the Closed Doors

The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times by Mohamed ElBaradei (New York: Macmillan) 2011; pp 352, $17, hardcover.

Missing the Forest for the Trees

Sukla Sen in his letter (“Nuclear Liability”, 24 April) in response to our article (“The Other Side of Nuclear Liability”, 17 April) suggests that we have neglected the right of recourse of the operator and that this provision amounts to the inclusion of supplier liability. Sen seems to have...

The Other Side of Nuclear Liability

The draft nuclear liability bill indemnifies the supplier of a nuclear plant and caps the liability of the operator in the event of an accident. The indemnity for suppliers is meant to please multinational plant vendors who wish to be free of liability even for accidents that result from a design flaw. The cap on operator liability is far lower than the potential damage that a nuclear accident could cause. This clause is designed to facilitate the entry of domestic big business into the nuclear market by ensuring that domestic operators will not be held responsible in the eventuality of damage following an accident. Hence the bill transfers risks for a nuclear mishap onto the people at large. Furthermore, it offers almost no financial disincentive for unsafe behaviour on part of the operators and suppliers of nuclear plants.
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