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CNDP Fact Finding Report on Jaitapur

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

CNDP Report on Jaitapur titled, “Courting Nuclear Disaster in Maharashtra: Why the Jaitapur Project Must Be Scrapped”

link to local copy

Nuclear Power Subsidies: The Gift that Keeps on Taking

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Report from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Link to pdf of Report

Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away, according to a February 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The report, Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies, looks at the economic impacts and policy implications of subsidies to the nuclear power industry—past, present, and proposed.

How would you like your subsidy?

Nuclear power subsidies vary by type of ownership (public or private), time frame of support (legacy, ongoing, or new), and the type of cost (or “attribute of production”) they address—from startup capital to decommissioning and waste disposal. Subsidies can take many forms, including tax breaks, accident liability caps, direct payments, and loan guarantees.

While the exact value of these subsidies can be difficult to pin down, even conservative estimates add up to a substantial percentage of the value of the power nuclear plants produce—approaching or even exceeding 100 percent in the case of legacy subsidies and subsidies to new privately-owned reactors

Subsidies prove addictive

Subsidies were originally intended to provide temporary support for the fledgling nuclear power industry, but the promised day when the industry could prosper without them and power from nuclear reactors would be “too cheap to meter” has yet to arrive. It is unlikely to arrive any time soon, as cost estimates for new reactors continue to escalate and the nuclear power lobby demands even more support from taxpayers. Piling new subsidies on top of existing ones will provide the industry with little incentive to rework its business model to internalize its considerable costs and risks.

Nuclear subsidies effectively separate risk from reward, shifting the burden of possible losses onto the public and encouraging speculative investment. By masking the true cost of nuclear power, subsidies also allow the industry to exaggerate its economic competitiveness; consequently, they diminish or delay support for more economical and less risky alternatives like energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Recommendations

The report concludes with a dozen recommendations for policymakers, including reducing subsidies to existing reactors, adopting market-oriented approaches to uranium mining royalties and waste management financing, and incorporating the costs of preventing nuclear proliferation and terrorism into economic assessments of new reactors.

Jaitapur project promoters can’t buy off villagers: study

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Meena Menon in The Hindu

December 30, 2010

Majority believe environment, livelihood are at stake

Region falls in seismic zone III, which is not suitable for nuclear plants

Villagers contest NPCIL claim that 626.527 out of 938 hectares acquired is barren

MUMBAI: It will be a mistake to construe the people’s struggle against the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project as an agitation for higher compensation, says a social impact assessment report prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

A majority strongly believe that the project will harm their environment and lives. The people are insecure about the location of nuclear plants in seismic areas, fearing they may lead to a major catastrophe, the report says.

In the first assessment of its kind of the project, the report says higher compensation and better packages will not pacify villagers. A large part of the land planned to be acquired at Madban in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district is being used for farming and grazing. With government support, horticulturists have spent lakhs on making the land cultivable.

Lack of transparency

Another matter of concern is the lack of transparency on the part of the government and the company that is going to execute the project. The issues are much more complex and the people’s concerns raise some fundamental questions about the so-called ‘development,’ the report notes.

Mahesh Kamble, assistant professor and officiating chair of the Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, which has prepared the report at the behest of two people’s organisations, says the report was ready by November. A copy was sent to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan a few days ago, but there is no communication from his office.

Mr. Chavan has announced plans to visit Jaitapur to convince the people of the need for the project, but Mr. Kamble feels this is not the right approach: he wants the project halted, and Mr. Chavan to understand what the people’s concerns are instead of pushing for it.

Calling for a participatory method of studying impact, the report says the concerns at the development model and social equity have to be addressed. Among the key issues that are not addressed includes the fact that the region falls in seismic zone three — a fact acknowledged even by the government. All seven villages studied have frequently experienced minor seismic activities. One of the 123 villagers interviewed for the report sought, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, data on the frequency and severity of the seismic activities over the years. But there was no response to any of his queries.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), in charge of the project, has denied that it is a seismic area. According to an activist of the region, the report of the Vengurlekar Committee, submitted in 1972, sets forth the criteria for establishing nuclear reactors in seismic regions. Reactors can be set up only in seismic zones one and two.

The government had proposed a baseline survey for the social impact assessment and rehabilitation to be carried out by the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), but the study has not yet started what with local protests. The final Environmental Impact Assessment is not available to the people; there is no information either on a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), the report points out. The people believe that the government is rushing the project through without proper impact assessments.

The report says the people’s concerns are related to the project’s possible impact on their health, livelihoods and environment, and their lack of faith in the government is evident. Instead of a conventional rehabilitation package, the report notes, the government could think of some innovative ways by making the people “partners” or shareholders in the project. The main occupations of the people in the area are farming and horticulture, especially mangoes and cashew, besides fishing. According to the report, the NPCIL said that of the 938 hectares acquired mainly in the villages of Madban, Mithgavane, Karel, Warilwada and Niveli, 626.527 hectares is non-productive. But the people maintain that this land is used for horticulture and rice cultivation, and as pasture. The data secured under the RTI Act showed that the government paid out Rs. 1,37,07,000 in compensation for the loss of mango production in the 2007 floods. In the Rajapur block, which includes Madban, Karel, Mithgavane, and Niveli, 33,283 farmers received compensation again in 2009.

The likely impact of the project on health is one of the prime concerns of the villagers. People are aware of Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Pokhran and Jadugoda, where radiation is believed to have harmed the people’s health and the environment.

There are fears of damage to the environment, too. The area lies in the Konkan belt that boasts a long seashore, creeks and dense deciduous forests, with more than 150 species of birds and 300 species of plants. Some rare species of birds and plants are on the verge of extinction. There are concerns at the cumulative impact of the more than 12 power plants proposed on the coastline. The region borders the tourism district of Sindhudurg; Ratnagiri has been declared a ‘ horticultural district’ by the State government.

The people are also afraid that the project will have a negative impact on fishing: heated water disgorged by the plant will impact the catch, forcing fishermen to migrate.

The experience from the other mega projects around the area in the past is an important factor that has led to protests against the Jaitapur project. The people expect the government to explore renewable and alternative sources of power such as tidal and wind energy, the report says.

But a small minority supports the project, but it too is not convinced that the health and livelihood of those living in the area would not be harmed. It believes that a mega project will have the potential to spark development in an underdeveloped Jaitapur.