'Indian atomic power plants safer than western'

| 04 May 1998 10:26 IST

Why do Indian atomic power plants look unsafe ? Because they have no Anglo-sexan appearance.

This is a firm belief expressed by P R Kumaramangalam, the union minister of state for power. "Otherwise our atomic power plants are much safer than any western plant, especially the French ones", he comments.

He was grilled over the issue by the journalists here during his brief visit to Goa. But he dismisses all the fears about the Kaiga atomic power project, which is coming up 30 kms from here, in Karnataka's border region of North Kanara.

"It is the safest among all such plants in the western region", he claims with conviction.

Kumaramangalam, who was also the atomic energy minister earlier, blames the contractor and not the design for the collapse of one dome of the Kaiga project and justifies its completion with the same design.

Protests from several environmental groups and citizens from North Kanara and Goan from across the border had received total negative response from the authorities when the project was planned a decade ago.

But a wave of fear and panic spread all over the district when a dome collapsed halfway during construction process. The controversial power project is now expected to be commissioned by year end, which would generate around 400 MW of power for the four southern states.

Pratapsing Rane, the Goa chief minister, had also expressed similar fear when several ministers, MPs and MLAs from the Karnataka's north-western region had demanded to stop its construction. But as its construction is now nearing completion, Goa has demanded a share from it for the tourist state.

Kumaramangalam has agreed to negotiate with the southern states to provide 50 MW of its power to Goa, though it is not part of the southern region. "I fully sympathise with Goa's demand as it is caught up between the west and the south", he assures.

While the tiny tourist state is planning to go for full-fledged privatisation of power generation to overcome the crisis it is going through, Kumaramangalam has however cautioned all the states that privatisation alone cannot solve the power problems.

He points out that out of 23 per cent national loss on transmission and distribution, only seven per cent is due to technical problems while remaining 16 per cent is theft.

"Making T & D more efficient and accountable with the help of good management and honest functioning can solve our problems", he opines.

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