A CAG report clearly points out to deliberate laxity in the planning and implementation of fuel supply by the Department of Atomic Energy. Seen in the light of the dubious Indo-US nuclear deal, the burden of blame has to fall on the government of the day. A blog post.
A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has directly blamed the Department of Atomic Energy for financial bungling and mismanagement of the fuel supply for nuclear reactors in the country. The report points out to a deliberate laxity in the planning and implementation of fuel supply by the Department of Atomic Energy. Whether this laxity was deliberate or not is the question to be asked. Considering that the temporary mismatch in fuel supply was used as a prop to push through the nuclear deal and the manner in which the situation was used by the UPA government, suggests that it indeed was the case.
The CAG report points that the DAE “denied the nation the full benefits of clean nuclear energy to the extent of 21,845 million units corresponding to Rs 5,986 cores,” and the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd itself did not use the uranium that it had already mined for the existing reactors. Worse, the DAE has been indicted by the CAG who states, "DAE had not linked or ensured availability of fuel to fully address the needs of PHWR programme upto 2020. Inspite of knowledge of an impending shortage of uranium fuel, DAE went ahead and sought approval for four new PHWRs at the cost of Rs 6,354 crore".
Indeed, there can be other reasons for the non-fulfilment of the expected uranium exploitation by the DAE. There have been reports of domestic opposition to uranium mining in Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh for e.g. But the unseemly haste in pushing the nuclear deal in the light of the “temporary shortages” has been there for all to see. Surely, the case for the nuclear deal was driven by strategic conditions for an unilateral partnership with the United States, as the events leading to the deal point out.
Added to the loss to the exchequer because of the reduction in operational capacity of the PWHRs due to the supply constraints as is pointed out by the CAG “rap on the knuckles”, is the fact that uranium sourcing as well as reactor buying processes as set by the nuclear deal, now ensure that the the ordinary energy consumer in the country will be subjected to nuclear energy prices much more exorbitant compared to energy from other sources. This suggests that the bungling in the financial planning for nuclear energy consumption in the country is now further exacerbated by the nuclear deal itself. Added to those costs are losses in sovereignty owing to the signing of the 123 agreement as this site has repeatedly pointed out.
The nuclear deal in addition to nuclear energy management by the UPA government, all in all, therefore paints a saga of incompetence and deliberate malfeasance. More will be said in the coming days for sure.