Koodankulam Is Not Russian?
Indian Nukedom Tries to Free up Russia from Liability, Theft and Project Failure!
In an interview to rediff.com, Mr. R. S. Sundar, the site director of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), has claimed that the KKNPP is not a Russian turnkey project. Here is Mr. Sundar’s categorical answer to Mr. A. Ganesh Nadar’s specific question:
Is this a Russian turn-key project?
“Absolutely not! This is not a Russian turn-key project. This is one misconception many people have. This is not a turn-key project. The technology — that is the design, the drawings, the equipment — has been supplied by the Russian Federation. But the entire construction, starting from the civil construction, the mechanical component, the electrical component, the instrumentation component, erection, has been done by Indian engineers and Indian contractors. BHEL, Larsen & Toubro, the Electronic Corporation of India among others have done all the work. The commissioning has also been done by Indian engineers.”
But on November 20, 1988, Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed an agreement and it clearly pointed out that the Soviet vendor Atomenergoexport would supply the reactors “constructed on a turnkey basis.” On February 29, 1989, V.S.G. Rao, project director of the Koodankulam Project, said that “the USSR will use Indian contractors and laborers even though the reactors will be supplied on a turnkey basis.” On October 12, 1989, Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) M. R. Srinivasan said that the signing of the contract for turnkey execution of the project would come only after the design study was completed.
In December 1995, India no longer wanted a turnkey operation, as was originally agreed. Instead, India wished to obtain pressurized water reactor technology that would allow it to build its own plant “like China.” On February 15, 1997, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy Karasin affirmed Moscow’s intention to build two 1,000 MW LWRs in India and said that construction was a “bilateral issue.”
A supplementary agreement to the IGA was signed in New Delhi on June 21, 1998, by the Russian Minister for Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov and the AEC Chairman and DAE Secretary Dr. R. Chidambaram. Under this agreement, the Russians were to provide the reactor designs and supply the equipment and NPCIL would build the reactors. But “a team of Russian specialists would stay at the site to render technical assistance at all stages of construction, in the installation of reactor equipment and in the commissioning and operation of the reactors until the final takeover by NPCIL’s operators” (emphasis added; Frontline 2004).
In January 1995, a Rossiiskaya Gazeta article quoted Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Viktor Mikhailov as saying that some 1,000 Russian nuclear experts would work on the Koodankulam project. The NPCIL has confirmed officially (in its letter No. NPCIL/VSB/CPIO/2574/KKNPP/2013/737 dated April 29, 2013) now: “As on 31.03.2013 there were around 110 no.s of Russian specialists working in KKNPP. NPCIL has no information regarding their pay scales etc.”
In the light of the above, how does Mr. Sundar question the turnkey nature of the project now? By insisting that the KKNPP is not a Russian turnkey project, and is actually built with components from South Korea, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and other countries, is the Indian nuclear establishment trying to set Russia free from supplier liability, enormous amount of theft and the abject failure of the KKNPP Unit 1?
If the Russians supplied only the technology and the Indian companies such as BHEL, Larsen & Toubro, Electronic Corporation of India, Hindustan Construction Company, Simplex Concrete Piles (India) etc. did the construction, instrumentation and erection, are they responsible for any accidents and liable in any way? While the Russian and the Indian companies make huge profits and engage in financial improprieties, why should the Indian public bear the cost of supplier and operator liability?
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) thinks that the Indian nuclear establishment, especially the NPCIL, is bending backwards with hidden and hideous intentions of freeing up the Russians from liability commitments, and rampant corruption and theft in the totally failed Koodankulam project.
 R. Adam Moody, “The Indian-Russian Light Water Reactor Deal,” The Nonproliferation Review/Fall 1997.
 T. S. Subramanian, “Setting standards,” Frontline, 21/8 (April 10, 2004).
May 10, 2013
The Struggle Committee
People’s Movemenmt Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai 627 104
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 May 2013.
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