Recently, Prime Minister Modi and President Trump encouraged the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse Electric Company to finalise the techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors in India at the earliest date.
- It has been clear for years that electricity from American reactors would be more expensive than competing sources of energy.
- Nuclear reactors can undergo serious accidents, as shown by the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
- The six reactors being offered to India by Westinghouse would cost almost ₹6 lakh crore. If India purchases these reactors, the economic burden will fall upon consumers and taxpayers.
- It is estimated that even after reducing these prices by 30%, to account for lower construction costs in India, the first year tariff for electricity would be about ₹25 per unit.
- Nuclear power can also impose long-term costs. Large areas continue to be contaminated with radioactive materials from the 1986 Chernobyl accident and thousands of square kilometres remain closed off for human inhabitation.
- After the Fukushima accident in 2011, the company paid nothing towards clean-up costs, or as compensation to the victims, due to an indemnity clause in Japanese law. Westinghouse wants a similar arrangement with India.
India’s experience –
- Starting with the Tarapur 1 and 2 reactors, in Maharashtra, India’s experiences with imported reactors have been poor.
- The Kudankulam 1 and 2 reactors, in Tamil Nadu, the only ones to have been imported and commissioned in the last decade, have been repeatedly shut down. In 2018-19, these reactors produced just 32% and 38%, respectively, of the electricity they were designed to produce.
India should consider all such options before exploring the need to set up nuclear power plants in India imported from the United States.
Source – The Hindu
QUESTION – A certain section of nuclear disarmament activists are against the Indo-US nuclear deal. Examine the veracity of their arguments and share the Indian experience with nuclear power projects.