Left demands suspension of work at Jaitapur project

Mumbai: The Left parties on Wednesday demanded immediate suspension of work at the proposed 9900 mw Jaitapur nuclear power project and said it favoured an independent review of existing nuclear installations in the country.

Addressing a press conference, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat and CPI leader D Raja, who visited Jaitapur yesterday, asked the government to do away with imported nuclear plants which they said were costly and will come up with EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) technology, which has not been tested anywhere in the world.

"Suspend all nuclear reactor purchases. After Fukushima, we cannot take risks. We have been told that the government is still in negotiations to fix prices of reactors.

This should be stopped," Karat said.

He said the review of safety of nuclear facilities must be transperant and done by experts outside the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

Raja demanded that the nuclear liability law be reformed to extend the liability to the supplier in case of design defect.

Accusing the UPA government of not being transparent on the issue of nuclear power, Karat said it had "failed" to take people into confidence, especially after the nuclear crisis in Japan.

"According to nuclear experts, each reactor in Jaitapur will cost not less than Rs 30,000 crore and the cost will be Rs 2 lakh crore for six reactors that are proposed to come up there. This means Rs 20 crore will be spent to generate one mw of nuclear energy while indigenously produced electricity would cost around rs 8-9 crore," Karat said.

The CPI(M) leader said that in France and Finland too, the EPR technology implementation has been delayed and there have been cost overruns due to safety and design issues.

On his part, D Raja lashed out at the state government for responding to the concerns of the locals with "oppression".

"All those who oppose the project have criminal cases filed against them and the area is permanently under prohibitory orders," he alleged.

Karat said Left parties will form a national committee to support the agitation against the Jaitapur project.

To a question on whether the Left will include Shiv Sena, which is also stridently opposed to the project, in the committee, Karat said it will be difficult to form a committee of political parties given their ideological differences. "But we want to make this panel broadbased and involve professional experts as well," he said.

Raja said that after Fukushima, agitation against Jaitapur project has assumed greater national importance as it will have a far-reaching impact on the future of the country.

Karat said nuclear power constitutes 30 per cent of Japan`s total electricity generation. But despite being technologically advanced, disaster had happened in Fukushima, forcing the Japanese and German governments to reconsider their views on nuclear projects.

"But our government thinks it is not accountable and does not even want to declare the estimated cost for nuclear power production," he alleged.