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Pact with Areva not in India’s interest: Karat

Special Correspondent
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It will not be in the interest of our country to sign the pact

Prakash Karat
Prakash Karat

The National Committee in Solidarity with Jaitapur Struggle has asked the government not to sign any agreement with French company Areva on supply of an EPR reactor for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant during the two-day visit of French President Francois Hollande to India that began on Thursday.

“Given the range of issues with the Jaitapur project, it would not be in the interest of our country to sign any agreement with Areva on the EPR reactor. The Jaitapur plant must be subjected to public scrutiny, both on techno-economic grounds and on questions of safety before any decision is taken,’’ Prakash Karat, member of the committee and general secretary of the CPI(M), told journalists here on Wednesday.

The committee opposes the setting up of nuclear plants with costly imported reactors and believes that without a thorough safety review and detailed techno-economic analysis of the nuclear energy programme, no expansion must be undertaken.

The members of the committee besides Mr. Karat are: A. Gopalakrishnan, former chairperson of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board; CPI leaders A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja; Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan; CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and Prabir Purkayastha.

“The Jaitapur project is being pushed against the will of the people of the region. Any nuclear plant has to work with the people of the areas if it has to operate safely. It must also work out safety drills and evacuation procedures in the case of an accident. All this requires taking the local people into confidence, and not suppressing them with full force of the state as is being done currently,” the committee said.

“Post Fukushima, France’s Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (ASN) has completed a thorough re-assessment of Areva’s EPR reactor, one of which France is building in Flamanville. As a result, several substantial modifications to its hardware and subsystems, as well as design and safety re-analyses, have been mandated by the ASN. Based on Flamanville costs, the phase-1 capital cost of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) would be of the order of Rs. 1,20,000 crore for 2 reactors, with a capacity of 3,300 MW. With this amount of investment, India can install more than 20,000 MW of coal fired plants,” the committee said.

Dr. Gopalkrishnan quoted a study by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore, published in the Current Science journal of the Indian Academy of Sciences last year, that raised serious doubts about the prudence of setting up six 1,650 MW nuclear reactors at this site.

Mr. Raja said the nuclear plant would be situated in a seismic zone, and raised serious doubts over safety.

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