“Modi Govt’s announcement for setting up ten new Nuclear Plants is a dangerous hype”: NAAM

Public statement by
National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements (NAAM)

Modi Govt’s Announcement For Setting Up Ten New Nuclear Plants is A Dangerous Hype

True to its penchant for creating headlines, the Government of India has announced plans to set up 10 new nuclear plants in the country, which has been declared a gigantic step by none other than the Prime Minister himself. The media has also labeled it as a big and unprecedented push for the nuclear sector, and the news has also been promptly lapped up by the international nuclear lobbies claiming a renaissance of nuclear power.

The truth, however, is that all the projects mentioned in the announcements are already underway in places like Chutka(Madhya Pradesh), Gorakhpur(Haryana), Mahi-Banswada(Rajasthan) and Kaiga(Karnataka). So the latest announcement is little substantial value, except an attempt to create headline in favour of the government and the nuclear establishment.

These projects have been on the anvil for almost a decade now, and have been facing intense local opposition, besides other serious questions such as safety concerns, environmental impacts, emergency evacuation and liability.

These so-called indigenous nuclear reactors currently at various stages of construction, will be Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors(PHWR) of 700 MW each, and the Nuclear Power Corporation has no experience in constructing and operating such design. Morever, private entities with absolutely no experience of the nuclear industry have been awarded contracts and sub-contracts for these projects, which have huge safety implications.

These reactors are being set up by violently crushing local people’s dissent and setting aside basic norms of environmental and safety clearances. Most projects have their own location-specific problems such as non-availability of cooling water, seismic faultlines and other serious risks. Common people – farmers, fisherfolk, adivasis, women and children – have risen in tens of thousands at each of these places to peacefully oppose the onslaught on their lives and livelihoods, and have faced brutal govt repression.

Independent experts and citizens groups have also been raising questions on the sheer lack of transparency and accountability within the Department of Atomic Energy as well as the non-independence of the nuclear regulator in India. In the post-Fukushima world when there is a global shift away from nuclear energy, and renewable sources have become amazingly competitive and efficient in recent years, there is unfortunate and arrogant financial imprudence involved in India’s continuing nuclear obsession.

Both the previous and the current governments have tried to undermine the nuclear liability law, in effect the constitutionally mandated right of common Indians to sue the supplier companies in case of catastrophic accidents. The matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court of India, and the Government of India must refrain from going ahead with such dangerous nuclear expansion.

We urge, on behalf of the grassroots movements in India against nuclear power and the democratic civil society, that such dangerous, eco-destructive, expensive and anachronistic plans be put on hold and the Government initiates a wide democratic consultation with involved stake holders, including local communities and independent experts.

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