Statement by the National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements (NAAM), India | 31 December 2017

National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements welcomes the Report submitted to the Parliament of India by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). It raises some extremely serious questions about functioning of the nuclear establishment in India which the government and citizens can ignore only at their peril.

The report vindicates the local people, activists, independent experts and scientists who have been raising the issue of vulnerability of crucial components used in the Russian-supplied nuclear reactors in Koodankulam. The CAG report brings out the fact that defective equipments, especially the turbine rotors have been used in the nuclear plant by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

The CAG report has severely indicted the NPCIL for a delay of 222 days in the year 2015-2016, far more than the planned period of 60 days. It is shocking that the media and government did not question the NPCIL during this period, whereas they vilified the local protestors for delaying the plant earlier.

The CAG report also mentions an over-expenditure of a staggering Rs. 704 Crores. This is not a notional, but an actual loss to the public exchequer, for which the NPCIL must be held accountable.

As these irregularities go far beyond cost and time over-runs and have serious safety implications, we demand that the operation of Units 1 and 2 must be halted immediately until an independent and credible inquiry into the safety of reactor components in conducted. We also demand that plans for more units at Koodankulam must be put on hold with immediate effect.

The former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board(AERB), Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan has recently demanded a moratorium on all reactor constructions. After Fukushima, a number of countries have paid heed to such sane advice. The safety concerns on nuclear power plant operation in India, as expressed repeatedly by a nuclear power expert like Dr. Gopalakrishnan, must not be continued to be ignored for the overall welfare of our communities.

The serious concerns of the Civil Society Groups, such as the cost and time over-run, safety issues, poor operational performance, ever decreasing relevance of nuclear power in the energy basket of the country etc. have been highlighted many times in the past also. These concerns will only increase, as is experienced all over the world.

What is shocking to the concerned civil society groups in the country is the irrational policy of the successive governments to continue to pour enormous amounts of public money and resources into a technology, which has been proved to be enormously costly and risky to our society, despite the fact that the renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power have matured, found to be suitable and whose prices are plunging with the passage of each year.

As a first step towards this end, we reiterate our demand for transparent and impartial inquiry into issues raised by CAG report as well as those raised over the years by independent experts, must be conducted before the government goes ahead with setting up more reactors. We also demand that a national-level consultation with energy experts, environmentalists and local communities must be organised for a democratic and open discussion on the desirability of expansion of nuclear power projects in the country.