India signing deal with Areva to set up Nuclear Reactor near Mumbai despite issues

India is working with a French company to set up a Nuclear Power reactor.  India is close to an agreement with the French company Areva on a contract for Areva to build a nuclear power station on the west coast of India. The project is for two European pressurized reactors (EPR) at Jaitapur 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of Mumbai.

The Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said this in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper.

Although the minister – or the Indian Government – is saying that appropriate measures are being taken for safety, it is still a fairly risky venture.  Specially when it is just 250 miles from a major city like Mumbai!

“We have to settle the questions of safety raised by the tsunami in Japan and this has an effect on the unit price of energy produced,” he said.  This was being studied by experts but “a final agreement is within reach,” he said. (link)

There have been a lot of issues with this deal.  One, being the clause where the onus of the accident was on the Supplier.  It is not clear whether that has been resolved or by-passed?

Commenting on the Act, which has been opposed by all companies vying for business in India because of a clause that puts the onus of an accident on suppliers, the sources said Areva’s basic principle was to abide by the law of the land and at the same time ensure that the company’s interests were protected. But as the Rules have not entered into force, there is uncertainty about how it will all end up. In addition, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition on safety in civil nuclear plants. “But this question is not for us to solve,” they said. (link)

The other is that there have been a lot of protests on the deal and have led to even deaths in the police firing.

The second issue facing the French company are mass protests in and around Jaitapur that has led to the loss of a life in police firing. Unlike the Russians, who suspected a foreign hand in protests at their site in Kudankulam, the French are taking the protests at Jaitapur in their stride.

Apart from that there are other issues with the sourcing of the parts which may be resolved by going to the South Koreans instead of the Japanese.  But the whole deal is a fairly dicey one.

One wonders if India has really utilized the Solar and the Wind energy as efficiently as it could, before going for the Nuclear option?

A lighthouse currently exists  the proposed site of a nuclear power station near Jaitapui
A lighthouse currently exists the proposed site of a nuclear power station near Jaitapui

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