Protests thwart India's nuclear plans

Oct. 6, 2011 at 8:55 PM

MUMBAI, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- An increase in anti-nuclear sentiment after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March has stalled India's ambitious plan for nuclear expansion, officials said.

Under the plan pushed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reactors imported from the United States, France and Russia were to increase the country's nuclear-power capacity from the present 4,780 megawatts to 60,000 megawatts by 2035 and to provide one-quarter of the country's energy by 2050.

Violent protests in April halted construction in Jaitapur in the western state of Maharashtra, where a French company was to build six 1,650-megawatt reactors, and West Bengal state refused permission in August for a proposed 6,000-megawatt facility near the town of Haripur intended to host six Russian reactors, Nature reported Thursday.

The protests have almost completely shut down the country's nuclear expansion plans, Indian officials acknowledged.

"We have not begun work on a single reactor from a foreign vendor; even the land has not been acquired," Swapnesh Malhotra, a spokesman for the Department of Atomic Energy, said.

The protests have been mainly against imported reactors, the designs of which are untested.

"The French reactor offered to India is not working anywhere in the world and the Russian reactor had to undergo several design changes before we accepted it," Annaswamy Prasad, retired director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai, said.

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