Nuclear power does not contribute to peace: experts

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Panaji, Oct 14 (UNI) Lashing out at the US designs of roping in India as its ''strategic partner'' to achieve its global ambitions, environmental experts debunked the claims that nuclear power contributes to nuclear deterrence and better climate.

''For the US, the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal is a quid pro quo. It wants to make India its strategic partner in civil nuclear power in return to pushing its trade agenda. There is not even an iota of evidence that the nuclear power has contributed to peace and disarmament, leave alone clean climate,'' they averred.

Dr M V Ramana, fellow at Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development at Bangalore University, along with CPI-led All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary Christopher Fonseca, was interacting with mediapersons here today on the nuclear issue as part the national campaign against the deal with the US.

Both are the members of National Coordination Committee for Nuclear Disarmanent and Peace (CNDP), an umbrella of peace organisation desiring a weapon free and progressive world.

India, without focussing its attention on building highly capital intensive nuclear reactors for meeting its galloping power needs, should spend more on tapping the abundantly available cost-effective alternative, renewable sources of energy, they said.

The cost of generating 1000 MW of nuclear power could cost at least Rs 8,000 crore to Rs.12,000 crore with long gestation period even as it works out to about Rs.4 to Rs.5 per unit of power at the current rates of construction. It would cost more if India imported equippment under the nuclear deal, only to benefit the exporters.

On the otherhand, the Indian companies like Reliance Energy and the Tata Energy were offering power at Rs.1.90 per unit.

India had contributed only 41,000 MW of nuclear power since inception of the programme, constituting a mere 3 per cent of the total energy generated now.

Even if the capacoity addition reached 20,000 MW by the year 2020, the nuclear power's contribution to Indian power grid would only be about 8 to 10 per cent, they claimed. At the sametime, government had earmarked Rs 50,3 billion for the Department of Atomic Energy in the last fiscal, it had allocated only Rs.3.87 billion, almost one tenth of the amount, on alternative renewable energy resources department, which generated 10.4 GW of power during the same period, they regretted.

Even as nuclear power was capital intensive, it long term effects were terrific in that none could guarantee recurrence of 1986 ''Chernobyl'' type of disaster in India with inbuild loss of human life and damage to environment. One had to take into account the huge cost of reprocessing the spent fuel or its encapsulation in deep burials which provides a continuous threat to the progeny as it lasts for more than 10,000 years underground at designated sites, the duo said.

Reprocessing of the spent fuel alone costs about Rs.30,000 per kg while India was producing 30 tonnes from each of its reactors per annum, leave alone almost half the subsidy the heavy water manufacturers had been offered on Rs 25,000 per kg cost of making it.

The real cost of generating nuclear power were higher if huge subsidies involved in nuclear waste management and production of heavy water required as coolant for nuclear reactors were taken into account, leave alone the huge cost of imported reactors if the deal was struck, they said.

Asked whether the opponents of the deal would be happy if India struck a deal with either China or Russia, they said they oppose any country that indulged in building up weapons of mass destruction.

''Nuclear power is closely linked to nuclear weapons. Any nuclear power programme sanctifies nuclear weapons regimes and India is graduated into a quasi-nuclear weapons state, which should be stopped,'' they said.

UNI

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