With allegations of leaky nuclear reactors and poor security levelled against India's nuclear programme, Atomic Energy Commission chief Sekhar Basu has brushed aside these charges saying this is a well-designed agenda to stall or delay the country's development.
Journalist Adrian Levy, working for the Centre for Public Integrity in Washington, has levelled serious charges in a four-part investigative report against India's nuclear establishment.
Basu, also director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, has said he does not consider these as charges, saying levy had written a paper based on "something somebody else has said elsewhere, which he has put into his account."
Basu said Levy's work was not a scientific document, based on facts. "It looks to us as a very well-designed agenda for them, whoever is funding him, to stall or delay the development of our country," he added.
Basu said those motivating Levy were "definitely from a foreign country, who think India should remain poor."
Levy had found that in Jadugoda, where India has its uranium mines, there was leakage and people were suffering from the effects of radioactivity. However, Basu, talking about a suo motu case taken up by the Jharkhand high court, said the committee formed on the court's direction to look into the matter had found that there was no evidence of extra burden of diseases or that the number of those ill had increased.
"[In Jadugoda] children are moving around happily in their college and schools. This is an area where there is poverty, it is because of that, malnutrition or those type of problems that are there," he said.
He said as uranium is in the soil, and they were taking that out, "It is not a leak from a reactor, or a re-processing plant. In a mine, what is the leak that is possible? Anyway, there is an issue of 'tailing pond', and this tailing pond is one of the safest in the world, it is surrounded by hills on all sides, there is good fencing so that people cannot enter," he said.
To Levy's charge that the nuclear power reactors leak radioactivity, and don't function he said operators at the plants were the best in the world.
On the Kudankulam project he said, "It is one of the safest reactors in the world." Basu said incidents like the disaster at Fukushima in Japan where a tsunami caused systems failure in the nuclear reactor can never happen in India. "Everybody who comes, including the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who came after Fukushima, to see the Tarapur reactor, has found that this is one of the safest reactors," he said.
Basu said the nuclear reactor at Kudankulam had been shut for around six months as part of a normal procedure. It would be synchronised with the grid by the end of January.
The second reactor there would go critical in April and would be synchronised with the grid, and by June, it would feed power to the grid. He also rubbished Levy's claim of a bomb being produced somewhere in Karnataka.