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Jaitapur: The Power of Destruction

Posted on April 25, 2011 in Specials

By Anonna Dutt:

With 9900 MW power, India will have the largest Nuclear Power Plant in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. The project was officially signed on December 6th 2010 in presence of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.  However, this is not something to be proud of. There are a lot of problems associated with the project and there have been numerous protests by the civilians.

Although the cost of the electricity generated from this power plant would be Rs 4 only, yet there are protests. One might wonder why — Here are the reasons why Jaitapur is in the bad books of the civil society.

The first and the foremost reason is that it is nuclear energy. The tagline of Nuclear Energy is that it is the greenest source of energy and does not cause pollution. Although, there is no carbon emission during the production of Nuclear Energy but we often forget to take into consideration the nuclear waste that is produced. It is the worst kind of pollutant and might even lead to genetic disorders.

Secondly, Jaitapur is a high earthquake risk zone on the coastline. It has been given Zone IV status by the Geological Survey of India. This means there could be an earthquake of up to the magnitude of 7 points on the Richter scale any time in Jaitapur. In the last 20 years alone there have been three major earthquakes. This was not taken into consideration while choosing the site for the project.

Third, it uses the similar light water reactor technology as was used in Fukushima. The reactor depends upon active cooling for weeks even after it has been stopped. This design makes it vulnerable to the same problems that caused the Fukushima accident after a Tsunami hit Japan on 11/3/2011. Also, once the project is complete there would be a series of Nuclear reactors in Jaitapur; this could lead to multiple failure and radiation release.

The project has been undertaken by French Company AREVA which is notorious for poor track record on quality control. This too counts against the project.

Nuclear Energy is not only the most dangerous form of energy production but also the costliest one. There is a myth prevalent amongst people that nuclear power is cheap. Maybe so in the long run but in the short run it is by far the costliest. Two units alone cost 32, 000 crores. This is just the estimated cost. There have been massive overruns in the budget of construction of plants by AREVA in France and Finland. India too has a history of overruns.

Also, the cost in India is actually lesser than those in other countries but this would just result in cutting safety corners and poor quality of construction. With this kind of pricing, India would just be left with spiralling costs and an Energy option that would not meet its needs. It would also increase the probability of a nuclear hazard manifolds.

Another reason why people have been protesting against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010. There are many clauses in the bill that have been criticised.

For example, Clause 7 of the bill states that in case of a nuclear disaster the operator has to pay meagre sum of Rs. 500 Crore and the rest would be paid by the government. Also, if there is a written contract then the operator can claim the liabilities from the supplier or manufacturer. In such a case also the companies can get away with paying only Rs. 1500 Crores. Another clause states, in case of a Nuclear Disaster only the operators have the right to sue the companies.

These are some of the reasons why people have been going against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. Now is your time to join the protest and stop the impending disaster!

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