By Lt Col Zaheerul Hassan (R)
A committee of experts, appointed by the Tamil Nadu government in connection with the safety aspects of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNNP) submitted its report to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on February 28, 2012, indicating a crucial stage in the debate over the project. In this regard, the State government also invited the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) representatives for talks on next day.
However, on above mentioned report visible clashes has been noticed between government sponsored scientists and private but straight former scientists who were really worried about the lives of the local living around the project. In this regard M.R. Srinivasan, a former chairman of Indian Atomic Energy commission and member of experts committee while talking to the media reporters said that “Let the government have a cool view of the report,” but ” I have not taken back my words on the issue despite that few government officials are satisfied over the issue.”
He further explained that on February 20, after visiting the nuclear plant and holding talks with PMANE representatives in Tirunelveli, Dr. Srinivasan had said the state-of-the-art safety features incorporated in the reactor had made it a ‘third generation plus’ reactor. S. Iniyan, Director of Centre for Energy Studies, Anna University, D. Arivuoli, Professor, Department of Physics, Anna University and former IAS office L.N. Vijayaraghavan are the other members on the committee.
Meanwhile, Mr. Udayakumar has sent a legal notice to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for insinuating that the anti-Kudankulam protests were funded by United States and the Scandinavian non-government organisations. Advocate M. Radhakrishnan, who sent the notice on behalf of Mr. Udayakumar, said the Prime Minister had made a “false statement with an intention to harm his client’s reputation”.
Notably, security of Indian nuclear programme always remained questionable remained. Number of accidents, theft cases ,killing of scientists and staff through torturing ohave been observed on various Indian nuclear plants . Whereas Pakistan being a responsible atomic power, has adopted strict measures at its nuclear plants so as to save the lives of their employees and the nearby population, yet India’s record of poor nuclear safety has surprised the international community in the era of ongoing nuclear age. In this respect, in the end of November 2009, more than 90 Indian workers suffered radiation due to contamination of drinking water at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka. Indian media got the story when many suffered persons were hospitalised, and it became impossible for New Delhi to conceal the tragedy.
The Nuclear Power Corporation, which runs Kaiga plant, did not reply to the media queries over the nuclear accident, while Indian Atomic Energy Chairman, Anil Kodkar called the mishap at Kaiga an act of sabotage. Afterwards, an internal probe by Nuclear Power Corporation indicated possibility of mischief by an insider who had deliberately added some heavy water containing tritium to the drinking water cooler. So it is most alarming that anyone can cause any mischief at Indian any nuclear facility. This raises more questions regarding the poor safey of Indian all nuclear plants.
In short, Indian nuclear power installations have not been practising the right safety methods along with rigid security measures. The incident at Kaiga Atomic Power Station is not the first one, On July 27, 1991; a similar incident took place at the heavy water plant run by the Department of Atomic Energy at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan. Nuclear radiation had affected and injured many labourers there. Indian past record shows various kinds of security lapses in relation to various nuclear plants and the related sensitive materials. Coupled with other events of nuclear theft, smuggling and killing has become a regular feature of Indian atomic plants and facilities.
In July 1998, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seized eight Kg. of nuclear material from three engineers in Chennai. It was reported that the uranium was stolen from an atomic research center. The case still remains pending. On November 7, 2000, International Atomic Agency (IAEA) disclosed that Indian police had seized 57 pounds of uranium and arrested two men for illicit trafficking of radioactive material. IAEA had said that Indian civil nuclear facilities were vulnerable to thefts.
On January 26, 2003, CNN pointed out that Indian company, NEC Engineers Private Ltd. shipped 10 consignments to Iraq, containing highly sensitive equipments entailing titanium vessels and centrifugal pumps.
In February 2004, India’s Ambassador to Libya, Dinkar Srivastava revealed that New Delhi was investigating that retired Indian scientists could possibly be engaged in “high technology programs” for financial gains during employment in the Libyan government.
In December 2005, United States imposed sanctions on two Indian firms for selling missile goods and chemical arms material to Iran in violation of India’s commitment to prevent proliferation. In the same year, Indian scientists, Dr. Surendar and Y. S. R Prasad had been blacklisted by Washington due to their involvement in nuclear theft.
In December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material had been stolen from an Indian fortified research atomic facility near Mumbai.
On July 14, 2010 again created panic and sounded alarm in Mumbai when apparently Chlorine Gas leakage occurred at 4 a.m and over 80 people were taken to the hospital in a critical condition. The leakage took placed from a cylinder near the Bombay Port Trust in Sewri area. According to the reports “It’s a huge cylinder down below various other cylinders (from which the gas is leaking). However, the signs of victims’ personals created doubt about the types of the gas in the locals. On the conditions of anonymity some of the renowned locals and businessman gave serious reservations and claimed that in fact the leaked cylinder was part of the consignment that was supposed to be transported to chemical industries which are world over known for production of biological and chemical weapons. The claim of locals could be true since as per page 24 of Section -1 of NBC Proliferation Challenges, Indian has already acknowledged its chemical warfare program in 1997 and stated that related facilities would be open for inspection. India has a sizable chemical industry which could be source of dual-use chemicals for countries of proliferation concern. U.S. Department of Defense, Proliferation has also confirmed the facts in their various reports too.
Unfortunately, in 1984 accident at Bhopal plant also left unforgettable miseries where in Bhopal Union Carbide Pesticide Plant, over 8000 innocent people killed and more than 5000 suffered with serious injuries as a result of gas leakage in 1984. The affected individuals of Bhopal have still not been compensated and keep on crying for their rights in even in the highest courts. The entire discussions confirm that Indian scientists and authorities are lacking expertise in handling sensitive and dangerous material related to nukes and gases.
Nevertheless, the nukes experts always have shown strong concern over Indian poor safety and nuke arrangements on the nuke plants and handlers. In this regard New Delhi never paid heed to IAEA concerns over nukes safety and security. Almost 160 cases of theft, loss and misplacement of radioactive source have been registered in the local police.
I would like to express that Nuke Watchdog IAEA has not yet carried out detailed inspection of Indian Nuclear plants. The opinion of locals, customs officer, businessmen referred reposts in the article and gas leaking incident of Mumbai do confirm that India is preparing chemical and biological weapons. World community should ask India to stop further expansion of their nuclear and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programme. Pakistan should also discuss the matter of nuclear proliferation with Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna in ongoing SAARC Interior Ministers Conference at Islamabad.
The writer can be approached through firstname.lastname@example.org