The decision to import 40,000 MWe capacity Light Water Reactors (LWRs) in early 2006 was taken without any techno-economic evaluation by Atomic Energy Commission or any other agency to assess the need for these imports, said Dr. A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
“The decision was merely a quid-pro-quo to give business to the reactor manufacturers in those countries which helped India get a Nuclear Supply Group (NSG) waiver,” said the former chief. He was talking on the occasion National Seminar on People’s Science Movement on Saturday in Hyderabad.
The agreement to import was signed immediately after the nuclear energy framework agreement with the US was finalised in July 2005. In 2006, an Integrated Energy Policy was prepared by the Planning Commission which set 63,000 MWe as the projected nuclear capacity target for 2032, which included these imports as well.
The then chairman of the AEC colluded with the Prime Minister’s Office and went along with this purely political decision, and even the non-official scientific members of the AEC meekly consented, he added.
Dr. Gopalakrishnan alleged that even a conservative estimate of Rs. 20 crores per MWe for importing these reactors during next 20-25 years would cost tax-payer about Rs. 8, 00,000 crores.
“The decisions, price negotiations and supply terms are being negotiated by the UPA- 2 government in hasty is with the intention of fulfilling the PM’s commitments to these foreign governments and their companies before he demits office,” said Gopalakrishnan.
The decisions are taken by a closed group consisting of government officials, who are acting at the behest of Indian & foreign corporate giants. And the Prime Minister’s Office is overseeing the process to protect varied political interests, he added.
He further pointed out that there is absolutely no transparency in this process and a tight cover of secrecy is unnecessarily maintained over these essentially civilian, non-
strategic purchases. Even the Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) has limited authority to question DAE’s transactions. This current situation is certainly conducive to ferment corrupt practices, and potential malpractices in these reactor imports may turn out to be the next biggest financial scam.
It was really the role of the non-official scientific members of the AEC to seriously question the UPA government’s motives in neglecting the indigenous three-stage nuclear program from 2005 onwards.
It is high time we clean out the entire set of non-official members from the current AEC and replace them with an ethical set of comparatively younger generation senior scientists , so that public trust in the management of the Indian nuclear sector can be restored, he said.
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