India is soon going to buy many nuclear
reactors to produce electricity that will be
required for its vast population. The
Indo-US Nuclear Deal might materialize
once the US Congress gives its nod to go
ahead and sign the deal.
Electricity is needed to light the homes,
power the factories, and for a host of other
essential purposes. Communication
requires electricity. Our life is dependent
upon constant electric supply in our
electrical lines. Man has allowed himself to
be a captive hostage of one of nature's
intricate attributes
First he used the steam to drive his
locomotives and other machines. Then he
used the surprisingly efficient petrol to fire
his internal combustion engines and other
motors. Petrol and natural gas could be
used to produce electricity too. He dug out
black stones and powder called the coal
which could produce enormous heat when
burned. This heat was used to produce
steam to roll the generators that produced
electricity. He harnessed the power of the
falling water of the nature's giant water falls
to turn the elements of an electric
generator to produce high voltage
electricity. He devised a network of wires,
transformers and switches to distribute this
electricity to homes, offices, factories,
farms, and communication towers. He
could safely carry this power wherever
there was a need for it.
Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime
Minister of India was skeptical of the
intentions of advanced countries when
they offered to sell equipment to India for
production of power. He was intent upon
self-reliance in industrialisation of India. He
did not rush to sign treaties either with
USSR or with USA to get favours in
defense and trade. He was a true
Gandhian in looking inwards at the poor
multitude hordes living in our villages. He
knew begging and borrowing is not the
solution India could afford.
Slowly but surely India was able to design
and develop its own equipment required to
install huge electricity generating plants
across India. India  did not fritter away its
political strategy. In the matter of building
nuclear reactors to produce electricity India
did acquire a Canadian aided plant that
was installed at Tarapore.
The nuclear powers such as USA, UK,
USSR, and France were reluctant to allow
other countries acquire the capacity to
produce nuclear weapons. The material
that was used to make an atom bomb was
the same as that used in the nuclear
reactor electricity plant. Hence any country
possessing a nuclear reactor can process
the raw materials for the purpose of making
an atom bomb. Therefore the Nuclear
Powers (having nuclear bombs) wanted all
countries that wished to purchase nuclear
reactors for peaceful purposes to sign a
document known as NPT (Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty). India refused to
sign this document because it did not wish
to be included in the group of non-nuclear
Why did India choose to remain a
non-signatory of the NPT? The answer is
vague but a reason cited is that the
People's Republic of China (PRC) had
nuclear weapons. PRC and India fought a
war in 1962 over the border dispute. PRC
has been holding large tracts of Indian
territory and claiming that this land belongs
to it. There is a fear that PRC will not give
up its occupation of this land, of which
India has been the owner since many
India might not go to war to free this land
so long as the PRC threatens to use its
nuclear bombs if attacked. India did test its
atom bombs twice; once in 1974 and again
in 1998. After the 1998 test India declared
that it will not undertake any further testing
to acquire nuclear capability. It was
assumed that India acquired the complete
technology to produce any number of atom
bombs following these two tests.
By Mohan Shenoy
Adyar Gopal Parivar
Questions about Nuclear Energy
By Mohan Shenoy
Search in this site
The irony is that India refuses to sign the
NPT even now but accepts several
conditions of the group of countries
(Nuclear Suppliers Group) that sell nuclear
reactors  and fission material to it under
this new Indo-US Nuclear Deal. The
conditions laid down by the Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG) are practically
identical to those that are written in the
NPT. India will remain a non-signatory of
the NPT because it wants to keep its
options to produce atom bombs but at the
same time it has agreed with the NSG to
not test nuclear weapons any more,
The nuclear reactors and the raw material
needed to produce electricity from them
are very expensive. India can not afford to
buy these white elephants and loose
money in the process. Even the machinery
we acquire from Japan for our factories
have to be serviced by Japanese
technicians. The spare-parts have to be
imported from Japan when the machinery
breaks down. Service requisitioned from
Japan is expensive, but the service
requisitioned from USA will be doubly or
tribly expensive. India will have to keep a
disproportionately huge budgetary
allocation to purchase, install and maintain
nuclear reactors and thereby get
entrapped in the cycle of unending
expenses just for a small proportion of the
power produced in the country.
India wants every thing green, which
means we want all our activities
environment friendly. Any activity that
damages the environment will have
obstacles created by the residents living in
the area where such activity is held. Even
the gas-powered and coal-based power
plants have faced opposition from the
environmental activists. There will be
strong opposition from a large proportion of
the residents of any area where a nuclear
power plant is going to be established.
There is a scare in the minds of the people
about the dangers of radiation from a
power plant. Accidents at a nuclear power
plant will result in shutting down the plant
for long periods of time. There have to be
back-up provisions to supply electricity that
are affected by the break-down and
closure of the active plants. More electricity
will be required during the time the plants
are being built and readied for production.
This electricity will be utilised at the cost of
other customers of electricity.
Disposal of the waste products of a nuclear
power plant will be a knotty problem. The
power plants that will be built under the
Indo-US Nuclear Deal will have to comply
with the stringent regulations laid down by
the IAEA. This will cost dearly to India.
The time taken to design and build a power
plant will be over 12 years until which time
the money being spent to build such plants
will be locked up. The principal amount
and the interest will accumulate to
enormous proportions. The cost of
protective clothing, safety equipments and
security installations will be
disproportionate due to the fear of
radioactive material hazards and the
potentiality of attack by terrorists. India will
have to import all the equipment and also
the personnel that operate them. The cost
of appropriate housing and residential
amenities for over 3000 employees
working in one single plant will put the
capital costs to unaffordable ranges for a
poor India.
On the other hand if India were to allow the
local entrepreneurs and scientists to do
research on how to obtain easy and cheap
nuclear energy then we might find local
answers to these local questions
ourselves, albeit slowly. We can wait that
long because building the plants using the
technology from abroad is going to cost us
beyond our means.

Family Lines
Public Importance
Click on the picture
for details