Admiral (retd) L. Ramdas

Ramdas in Koodankulam-1
Admiral L Ramdas served as Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian navy taking the reins on November 30, 1990. Vir Chakra, Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Admiral Ramdas was warded Vishisht Seva Medal during his time in the Indian Navy.

In 2004, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Awards for peace for his efforts in trying to demilitarise and denuclearize South Asia. Admiral Ramdas is a leading voice of the growing people’s resistance against nuclear energy projects in India.

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OPEN LTR TO P.M. SEP 2013
OPEN LTR TO P.M. SEP 2013_0001

My dear Prime Minister,

PRIME MINISTER’S IMPENDING VISIT TO AMERICA AND IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR NUCLEAR LIABILITY ACT

It is only on matters of vital national concern that I address a letter to my Prime Minister. We appear to be facing such a situation today. I refer to the reported move to authorise NPCIL, to sign a preliminary contract with the US multinational WESTINGHOUSE, for setting up nuclear power reactors in Mithi Virdi, Gujarat, prior to your forthcoming visit to the USA next week.

As you are well aware I am not a proponent of Nuclear Energy, for reasons I have outlined to you in several letters over the past few years, and particularly since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. If anything the subsequent developments in Japan have only reinforced my opinion that India is best positioned to find her energy security from several other renewable sources.

However it is with shock and dismay that I have read the report in the Hindu today, and listened to the morning’s debates on our TV channels, which, if true, imply the following:

1. It dilutes the Nuclear Liability Laws, primarily to accommodate the commercial interests of US Nuclear business corporations. This is unacceptable and violates the sanctity of Parliament, and is totally against the interests of the Indian people.

2. If true, the leaked note to the CCS [Cabinet Committee on Security] to authorise NPCIL to sign the above mentioned contract and to make an initial payment of Rs 100 crores [US$ 15 million], shows a regrettable by-passing of the designated authority, namely the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission]. Any reference of the matter to AEC should normally have been preceded by a comprehensive Viability Study indicating the environmental, human, safety, technical and financial situation – in addition to a security assessment, given that Mithi Virdi is located close to the border with Pakistan. That this approval is now being sought from a body like the CCS, with no expertise in any of the foregoing, is shocking.

3. I am constrained to add that all of the above actions smack of both undue haste, and surrendering to pressures from outside. There is no reason for India to be bending over backwards to meet the business demands of America, or France or Russia. The nuclear industry in each of these countries is in shambles and this is the reason for their desperation to find markets in countries like India.

4. These actions not only indicate a contempt for public opinion and propriety, but a total lack of respect to the Parliament of this land which has debated and passed the Nuclear Liability Bill in 2010, keeping in mind the larger interests of the people of India. When countries like Germany, and Japan, have turned their backs on nuclear energy options, why are we willing to pay such an enormous price – both human, environmental and financial, to keep the foreign nuclear industries in business and to pass on sub standard equipment because they are un willing to be liable for any risk?

It is still not too late Prime Minister, for you to step back from this set of decisions which will not bring your government credit and if anything shows us up as a pliant state.

Kindly therefore rescind these actions and ensure that all procedures are met, that due diligence is applied in compliance with our Indian Nuclear Liability and Regulations and requirements before rushing in to sign contracts during your forthcoming visit to the USA, which could have catastrophic results from every point of view.

Yours Sincerely
L Ramdas