The Koodankulam Project Lies under a Heap of Lies!

As Shakespeare’s Othello prepares himself to kill his own wife in bed, Desdemona begs him to let her live. She cries in vain: “Kill me tomorrow; let me live to-night!”

Defending the honor of the dead Desdemona, her loyal maid Emilia accuses her own husband, Iago, of lying to Othello:

You told a lie, an odious, damned lie;
Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie.

Koodankulam-people and the reactorLike the helpless Desdemona, we, the people of Koodankulam, have been begging the Indian State to let us live, live in peace with our families, Nature and Future. But the haughty, conceited and obtuse men of power in political Delhi, nuclear Mumbai and profiteering Russia are persisting with their Othello-like lies and murders and self-destruction. The Koodankulam handkerchief in this modern Othello is surrounded by, sustained with, and steeped in lies. Lies, lies, and more lies!

[1] Lying about a Nuclear Power Plant!

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told his Russian hosts in Moscow on December 15, 2011 that the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) would be commissioned “in a couple of weeks.” He repeated this mind-numbing lie once again at the BRICS conference at Durban last month that the project would be certainly commissioned by the end of April 2013. Well, today is the last day! In fact, this “commissioning circus” has been going on from 2005 onwards and the Manmohan Singh government has set a record of sorts in this calculated and irresponsible misinformation campaign. The Prime Minister and his ministers and officers have been lying to the nation repeatedly and recklessly. Liar, liar, pants on fire? Better yet, liar, liar, plant’s on fire! A lying Prime Minister or his lying government is one thing, but lying about a nuclear power plant is a much more serious issue. We cannot and should not take these lies lying down. After all, there lies the whole country’s future!

[2] World’s “Best Reactor” (and Some Worst Parts)!

To add to the color and content of the national lies, there are international lies too. The Russian Consul General in southern India, Mr. Nikolay A Listopadov, has told that there is no question of substandard equipment having been supplied to the reactor. According to him, “Only four valves were found to be substandard, which is a drop in the ocean. Of the thousands of valves, one or two may be defective. This happens occasionally everywhere due to the sheer number of components involved. The regulatory board is inspecting it. Substandard equipment won’t be installed” (C. Shivakumar, “Russian K-omponents good, says Consul General,” The Indian Express, April 26, 2013). To add more strength to his lies, Mr. Listopadov chooses to add more lies to them. He has blamed the Western lobby for engineering protests in Koodankulam against the nuclear reactors. He reasons that the competition and rivalry over Russia’s nuclear ties with India could be one of the reasons behind the external involvement in the protests.

[3] Russia Arrests the Corrupt but India Fakes Innocence!

Rosatom’s official website has declared unequivocally: “Over the past few years ZiO produced and implemented a set of equipment for foreign nuclear power plants with VVER-1000: Tianwan (China), Busher (Iran), Kudankulam (India)” ( ZiO-Podolsk began shipping shoddy equipment in 2007 or perhaps even earlier. In February 2012, the procurement director, Mr. Sergei Shutov, was arrested for buying low quality and cheap raw material, passing it off as more expensive grade and pocketing the difference. The Federal Security Service, or FSB (the successor organization to the KGB) has been investigating the case that has serious implications for the safety of nuclear power plants built by Russia. Another Russian court has convicted one Mr. Alexander Murach, Director of another notorious Russian company, Informtekh, for fraud and sentenced him to three years in prison for selling counterfeit measuring equipment for nuclear and hydro power plants’ turbines.

On July 15-18, 2012, the panicky Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) delegation that included Special Secretary Mr. A. P. Joshi, Deputy Secretary Mr. Ninian Kumar and the Manager of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Mr. Dzhogesh Pady visited ZiO-Podolsk and discussed a range of issues related to the preparation for the launch of KKNPP-1, the progress of the KKNPP-2 etc. and signed a number of contracts relating to the implementation of the current phase of the KKNPP. (AtomEnergoMash, Posted 19.07.2012).

When we asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) under RTI on January 28, 2013 for “a list of those equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the KKNPP units,” the NPCIL replied tersely on February 20, 2013: “No Information regarding any investigation against Zio-Podolsk is available to NPCIL.” When we asked the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on January 28, 2013 for “a list of those equipment and parts that have been supplied by Zio-Podolsk to the KKNPP units” they responded on February 12, 2013 very evasively: “Selection of a company for supplying any equipment to NPCIL, is not under the purview of AERB.

[4] The RPV Lies!

Izhorskiye Zavody, which is part of United Machinery Plants (OMZ) holding, signed a contract with India for the construction of two nuclear reactor bodies for Kudankulam’s station in 2002. They shipped a new nuclear reactor body that would be the first power unit of India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant to the city’s sea port. Yevgeny Sergeyev, general director of Izhorskiye Zavody, said at a ceremony sending off the reactor: “We were so sure of our partners that we started to produce the first reactor bodies four months before the official contract was signed.” Sergeyev said the reactor was completed six months before deadline (The St Petersburg Times, 19 November 2004,

The Koodankulam reactor pressure vessel (RPV) arrived at the Tuticorin Port in January 2004. The first unit of the power plant was expected to be synchronized in December 2007, and the second unit by December 2008. Mr. S. K. Aggarwal, the then project director said: “The project officials have targeted to complete the works for synchronisation of both the units in March and September 2007 respectively.”

The Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision, Rostekhnadzor, claimed in 2009: “The main causes of violations in the NPP construction works are insufficient qualifications, and the personnel’s meagre (sic) knowledge of federal norms and rules, design documentation, and of the technological processes of equipment manufacturing. In particular, the top management of Izhorskiye Zavody have been advised of the low quality of the enterprise’s products and have been warned that sanctions might be enforced, up to suspending the enterprise’s equipment production licence” ( Unlike the original design of the Koodankulam RPVs, the erected ones have beltline welds, questionable quality and corruption charges.

[5] More Lies and Half-Truths on Components< Mr. R. S. Sundar, the site director of the KKNPP, has claimed that “the NPCIL had placed orders for obtaining a range of components for KKNPP from LG Electronics, South Korea, Alstom and VA Tech, France and Siemens, Germany, apart from getting components from Russia” (P. Sudhakar, “Kudankulam plant Director denies allegation,” The Hindu, April 4, 2013). Why does the NPCIL buy from all these companies/countries when the KKNPP-1 and 2 are Russian collaboration projects? Why doesn’t Mr. Sundar give out a list of equipment and parts bought for the KKNPP 1 and 2 from all of the above companies, and also from Zio-Podolsk and Informteck in Russia?

[6] The Czech Cables and the Checkered Cabling

Some ten Czech and Slovak companies have also supplied valves, pumps and cables to the Koodankulam project. Leoš Tomíček, Executive Vice-president of Rusatom Overseas says: “We already work with Czechs today. For example, for two blocks of the Indian Koodankulam nuclear power plant, nine Czech companies supplied us with valves, pumps, cables and other equipment worth 58 million dollars.” There have been many cable-related accidents and deaths at the KKNPP. T. S. Subramanian says in a 2009 article: “Cabling is under way in the state-of-the-art control room for Unit-1, which is akin to an aircraft’s cockpit. M.I. Joy, Additional Chief Engineer (Site Planning), KKNPP, said, “Once the cabling is completed, the entire control of the plant, including the reactor and turbine, will be done from the control room.” The plant’s control room is humidity-controlled. “The atmosphere is so pure here that the cables will not be spoiled,” said Joy.( It is this “so pure” atmosphere that has killed five workers in the past three months in electrocution accidents. The quality of the Czech cables and the checkered electrical work, and the role of Mr. M. I. Joy in all these are important questions to be looked into.

[7] Redesign One Day, Refit the Other Day, and Call It a Heyday!

We met with the Tamil Nadu government-constituted expert group on February 19, 2012 in Tirunelveli which included Dr. M. R. Srinivasan, the former Chairman of the AEC. During our interaction that was held in the presence of the Tirunelveli District Collector and other officials, Dr. Srinivasan never mentioned once that the DAE had made changes in the core of the reactor. It is also not known if he and the team included this unauthorized fiddling in the report they submitted to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. However, Dr. Srinivasan has publicly acknowledged now: “We sought an additional safety mechanism well before the Fukushima disaster. The safety mechanism consists of valves. The original reactor design had to be altered and I feel this is the basic cause for delay.” According to him, the valves were designed partially in India and Russia and compatibility with the reactor led to some hiccups ( After fiddling with the original design of the KKNPP reactors, the Indian authorities went back and did an unauthorized “refit” without revealing the details to anyone.

[8] Save Russians from Bankruptcy and Take Your Share-o-currency!

The Russian nuclear company, Atomstroyexport, has released its financial statement for the year 2011 and claims that losses in 2011 were twice bigger than the losses of 2010. The failed company is on the brink of bankruptcy. This has seriously affected the Russian nuclear projects at Koodankulam in India and Busher in Iran <>. The NPCIL authorities have claimed that the Rs.4,000 crores cost overrun at Koodankulam is due to the “increase in interest during construction (IDC), escalation on works, contractor’s overheads and establishment charges” (RTI reply dated February 20, 2013). It is pertinent to note that the Russian government is not making such financial compensation to India for all the delay and cost overrun in the Koodankulam and other Russian projects. We wonder if the Indian nuclear establishment is secretly helping the Russian company with its losses and bankruptcy.  We wonder if the Koodankulam financial irregularities involve both Indian and Russian nuclearocrats, diplomats and politicians.

Using Emilia’s words in Othello, we can also sum up the Koodankulam drama in the typical Shakespearean style of repeating one key word three times for more focus and force: “villainy, villainy, villainy!”

The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) demands that the Government of India and its ministers and officers work for the people of India and not for foreign countries and their corporations. They should learn to put our people’s interests ahead of other people’s interests. After all, India and Indians are much larger and more important than one discredited Prime Minister and his ludicrous commitments to his foreign masters. We demand a comprehensive, complete, independent inquiry into the financial and technical dealings of the Koodankulam project.

The Struggle Committee
People’s Movemenmt Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai 627 104
Tirunelveli District
Mobile: 9842154073, 9865683735

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