Delhi, 18 October 2002
had put forth our little knowledge of India's nuclear weapon status
recently. Lt Gen Pankaj Joshi has now woken up and said that a
Tri-Service Nuclear Command is to be formed. We are happy that he
confirmed what we have been saying -- that there was no such force
yet in place. In the national interests we hope that thought will
also be given to the other grave issue that Pakistan and India have
indulged in for years 末 nuclear bluff and that mindset
had also commented on the Pokharan nuclear explosions and stated
that the fission blasts and the fusion aided fission blasts do not
subscribe to a military capability of thermonuclear weapons, but may
contribute to very basic nuclear weapons. The safeguards may also be
scientists are theoretically very good, but in implementation not so
good and we relied on Dr Iyengar and others 末 more recently
Bharat Karnad for our findings. We also recall the case of naval
Captain Subba Rao who challenged BARC's Atomic Lord's claims on a
Reactor for the nuclear submarine project. He was hounded into jail
and then completely absolved. As long as bureaucrats control the
nuclear aspects of India and scientists and military are subservient
末 a danger lurks.
is a much less mature Nuclear nation but the Military controls their
projects. Therefore when we read the article below in the CSM, which
received wide publicity, we thought our viewers may like to read it
too and offer their comments on India's Nuclear Plants.
is the author Shashikumar and is he qualified to state that India's
nuclear plants are like Chenobyl? We have always said India is a
TABN i.e. Technologically Advanced Backward Nation, because the
geriatric leadership cannot easily comprehend the massive advances
India has made on low budgets, so safety and safeguards may get
compromised in the bargain.
At India's Nuclear-Power Plants: Cause For Concern?
Science Monitor, October 11, 2002
the country's safest reactors don't meet international
to its atomic regulations agency.)
V. K. Shashikumar, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
DELHI - Kakrapara Atomic Power Station (KAPS), in the western city
of Surat, is India's well-groomed nuclear workhorse. Huge concrete
domes enclose its two reactors, which generate a surplus of power
for the country. And when it comes to controlling radiation leakage,
KAPS is "our best station," says S.P. Sukhatme, chairman
of India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
it turns out, is bad news. KAPS may be India's prized nuclear plant,
but radiation emitted from its reactors is three times as much as
the international norm, says Mr. Sukhatme.
It's a shocking admission that puts the rest of the country's
nuclear-power plants in grave perspective. "The main
implication is that other nuclear-power plants are much worse than
even Kakrapar," says Suren Gadekar, considered to be India's
top antinuclear activist.
Four months ago, world leaders fretted about the possibility of two
nuclear-weapons rivals, India and Pakistan, approaching the brink of
war. That problem apparently on hold, India's nuclear scientists say
the country could still face an equally devastating nuclear
catastrophe 末 without a shot being fired.
time, the threat is not Pakistan or terrorists, but India's power
plants themselves. Some scientists say that the plants are so poorly
built and maintained, a Chernobyl-style disaster may be just a
matter of time.
fact that India's nuclear regulator acknowledges that reactors in
India are not operated to the standards of reactors in the US and
Europe is not much of a surprise," says Christopher Sherry,
research director of the Safe Energy Communication Council in
Washington. "But it is very disturbing."
tested its first nuclear device in May 1974. In 1998, the country
successfully conducted five underground nuclear tests, heralding its
entry into a select group of countries capable of waging nuclear
the country has 14 nuclear power reactors including two at KAPS.
are modeled after a design first built in Shippingport, Penn. in
1957, and considered by experts to be the most cost-effective way to
produce electricity through nuclear energy.
only three of those nuclear reactors fall under International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) standards. The rest - which were built with
local technology - are accountable only to national standards set by
February, Sukhatme asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd
government-owned manufacturer of nuclear plants - to plug leakage of
water contaminated with tritium, a highly radioactive substance,
from reactors. "There is a clear need for reducing the exposure
to workers," he says.
earlier this year, the AERB ordered the closure of India's first
nuclear plant in the state of Rajasthan. The reactor that put India
on the nuclear world map developed a series of defects, starting
with "turbine-blade failures." Gradually the reactor was
wrecked by "cracks in the end-shields, a leak in the calandria
overpressure relief device, a leak in many tubes in the moderator
the government releases no information about leaks or accidents at
its nuclear power plants, Dhirendra Sharma, a scientist who has
written extensively on India's atomic-power projects, has compiled
figures based on his own reporting. "An estimated 300 incidents
of a serious nature have occurred, causing radiation leaks and
physical damage to workers," he says. "These have so far
remained official secrets."
to critics like Mr. Gadekar, India's nuclear-power program has
always been secretive because politicians use it as a cover for the
country's weapons program. "Right from Jawaharlal Nehru
[India's first prime minister] onward, our leaders have always
claimed that the nuclear-power program is a 'peaceful' program,
whereas the weapons implications were
always there in the background," says Gadekar. "As a
result, secrecy has become a way of life for these people."
chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar, has
repeatedly asserted that his group is doing what it can to ensure
that the country's power plants are safe. Still, leaks continues to
raise serious questions about safety.
of the problem, says N.M. Sampathkumar Iyangar, a former
manufacturer of nuclear reactor components, is that well-connected
manufacturers are able to cut deals with politicians in India's
Department of Energy, often selling defective parts, which are then
used to build reactors.
others, like Dr. Kakodkar, say the real problem is that new
technology designed to upgrade safety at power plants is too
expensive for developing countries like India. According to Kakodkar,
India should not be held accountable to international standards
until the international community helps make such technology
available to developing countries.
"Safety and technology cannot be divorced," he says and