Old Plans, Ongoing Handouts, New Spin: Deciphering the Nuclear Construction Announcement
M. V. Ramana and Suvrat Raju
Economic and Political Weekly
June 15, 2017
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Last month, the union cabinet of India announced their approval for the construction of 10 additional 700 megawatt (MW) pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs). The official press release described this decision to expand on the 4 existing sites, currently under development, as a means to “help transform (the) Indian nuclear industry” and make it “a major step towards strengthening India’s credentials as a major nuclear manufacturing powerhouse”.
However, many past examples have yet to show projects of this type reaching completion, and a more careful reading of the recent announcement suggests intent to persuade the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to accept India as a member. Such recognition would win over sections of capital that hope to profit from supplying components for nuclear power plants, but previous reactors have proven to fall short of the expectations set before the. Additionally, given the risk of catastrophic accidents and the production of radioactive waste, nuclear power is neither safe nor environmentally benign. The push by the government, and build up by the media, creates an interesting narrative that does not seem to fully address the various factors that weigh in on the viability of nuclear power.