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Not sure how to do this, given that this is a data free hatchet job by Manu Joseph. So it isn't like he is claiming that his absurd claims are backed by data to begin with. Still, because I'm irritated enough, doing a limited take down of yet another attempt to trivialize the gravity and causes of farmer suicides with the Parliament in session (during or just before Parliament sessions is the season for hatchet jobs on farmers - probably to improve acceptance for anti-farmer policies coming up?).

All quotes from Manu Joseph's fantasy piece on farmer suicides in the Hindustan Times.

If an active cricket ground exists, it would be watered on most days, or it would die. So why this fuss before the tournament? Also, the calls for the cancellation of matches are comical for a simple reason — it is on the days of the matches that the grounds are not heavily watered.

Frankly, I agree with Manu Joseph that there are bigger problems than cricket in the face of drought. For example, the state allocation of water prioritizing industry over domestic consumption in blatant disregard for law or rights and a court limits (not cuts off, mind you) water to breweries long after people have spent months making careers out of seeking water to survive. However, the idea that a cricket ground consumes less water when there is a match is ignorance of the highest order, because he seems to think that facilities for a crowd of spectators and worse, media and teams camping out (who in our VIP culture won't be assigned a couple of buckets a day) don't consume water and all the water in a cricketing event is actually only the water poured on a lawn.

At this point, Manu Joseph dismisses the first veteran of his piece. Sunil Gavaskar.

Sunil Gavaskar, whose relationship with the BCCI, it is reported, has collapsed and whose lucrative contract with the board may end, wrote in his column, “The issue of drought is one such where many lives are at stake.” (True). “I am no expert on ground and pitch preparation…” (True) “…

What Manu Joseph does not realize is that Manu Joseph is no expert on ground and pitch preparation either and does not bother with any disclaimers about his lack of knowledge. Probably because it would involve not writing this absurd piece to begin with. Gavaskar may not be an expert on ground and pitch preparation, but Gavaskar knows cricketing events and probably realizes they are not as water free as Manu Joseph's piece is fact free.

This is a mystifying exaggeration — the suggestion that if matches are held in three cricket grounds in Maharahstra the lives of farmers would be at risk. But it is a popular view.

Absolutely no explanation for why Manu Joseph calls this an exaggeration. No mention of available water that people are ignoring and dying as a hobby. No mention of how much difference in water consumption there would actually be and what constitutes exaggerated. Absolutely no evidence anywhere that Manu Joseph has been to drought hit areas, studied so much as what drought means to reach his expert opinion. Manu Joseph has water in his tap and people are making too much of a fuss. And we actually have newspapers giving space to this entitled garbage. An interesting question of how editorial decisions happen in corporate media. Forget the stand taken by an article, but do newspapers no longer require claims to be backed by evidence?

It is not a popular view, BTW. Most people hate it. 60 kilometers from the heart of Bombay, I get half an hour of water - non-potable - a day. I earn enough to make ends meet and have the luxury  of home delivery for drinking water. Men, women, kids from our oh-so-posh looking society are routinely found at a water filtration gig round the corner, filling 10 liter cans for 3 rupees and ferrying the water home. I am nowhere near the officially drought hit regions of Maharashtra, where taps have run dry right after the monsoon and people have been ferrying water for MONTHS already. Perhaps Manu Joseph would like to ferry water for a week in an air conditioned car before calling these concerns exaggerated or merely popular opinion (as opposed to his fact free expert opinion, I suppose).

Perhaps the fact that many of the deaths from drought are from drowning may prove Manu Joseph's point that there is plenty of water and people are making a fuss? There are kids drowning in the silt in water reservoirs. Falling into wells. Kids who aren't in school to begin with, because they are needed to find and bring water home, right along with the adults. How many of these kids will need to search harder, walk farther? How many adults will die of heat stroke and heart attacks as the search for water makes them wander more in temperatures regularly over 40 degrees? There is already risk of water riots as desperation grows. How many of the quests for water will be made longer with tankers supplying water to desperate localities moved to lucrative providing for cricketing events? [link added because hours after I write this, an expose shows how water for the distressed gets sold to whoever can pay for it]

There is much veneration of farmers in India by those who are not farmers. These are the very people whose greatest fortune was that their grandfathers or fathers ejected their progeny from the agrarian economy.

There is also much dismissal of the plight of farmers in India by those who are not farmers. These are the very people whose greatest fortune is to be so comfortable in life as to see no difference in resources spent on entertainment and food. A lot of these overnight experts are those who find their agricultural know-how based on specific facts and arguments cherry picked and promoted by industries who would prefer to marginalize farmers. Who lack any basic knowledge on the subject to know when they are being fed handpicked bullshit or how they can verify it. Whose world view is so limited to their personal experience that they have little but contempt for anyone wanting attention or sacrifices or even inconvenience for problems that they don't face.

[Ignoring the exhibition of incompetence on diet except for one line, because it will derail the main track of this piece here. If you are interested, comment away and I'll do a separate piece on this other glorious piece of logic.]

The human body does not require rice and wheat. In fact it does very well without grain.

I challenge Manu Joseph to provide details of one meal that someone under our poverty line could afford that does not involve grains or meat (asked to give up just before this quote). Because dear friend, if rural India could afford a diet of nuts, they wouldn't be desperately running after water tankers, they'd order home delivery like you and me. And if you think people can survive without grains or meat or nuts - wait.... lemme guess. you're talking of a desk jockey lifestyle like yours without much need for energy? Cabbage your way out of that paunch? BTW, vegetable growing needs more water 🙁 Ask me. I have 3 balcony gardens for food and watering in summer is a pain. The grasses grow much easier than these lush beauties (I assume you know grains grow on grasses).

There is more, but I'm bored now. Ending with this masterpiece of propaganda (the art of repeating a falsehood till it starts sounding true)

Let me repeat an assertion this column made earlier while arguing that farmer suicides are primarily a depression story where poverty only plays a role:

“In a country where most people can be termed ‘farmers’, it is not anomalous that most people who kill themselves would be ‘farmers’. In fact, what is anomalous is that a huge majority of farmers who commit suicide are male. If both official and activist statistics are considered, it would appear that women in impoverished farming communities are among the least likely Indians to commit suicide. Activists who ascribe social, economic and political reasons for suicides would never be able to explain why.’ In most nations of the world, including India, the number of men who commit suicide is several times more than the number of women. this pattern is reflected in the gender ratio of ‘farmer suicides’.

Not just activists, any sane person can't get this logic. That depression is the cause of suicide, but not loans or policies and political maliciousness. I mean, why would you be depressed if your months of physical labour resulted in loss? Why would you be depressed if you couldn't repay loans? Why would you want policies to cover your risks? This logic can only come from someone living in a "normal" where hardwork is not necessary to survive, a good way of dealing with loans you don't repay is pulling strings to get them restructured and bailouts are necessary to save jobs, so not like you want any favors.

No matter how many times you repeat it, fact is, most people in India are not farmers. This bogus statistic is based on some expert claim made by another columnist on economics who found his agricultural gene just before a Parliamentary session with a GM food decision coming up and has been copied by every overnight agricultural columnist whose sole agricultural writings come when policy decisions are up for grabs and have never spoken to the family of a farmer who committed suicide or, for that matter, laid feet on agricultural soil for their journalism. Not seen a single person who actually has knowledge of the subject ever buy this nonsense.

The reason for that is that the IDIOT interpreted 54% of Indian population being sustained by the agricultural SECTOR (this includes everything from distributors of pesticides to tractor mechanics and wholesalers of grain) as farmers. Whereas, the fact is that the farmer suicide problem is largely between small and marginalized farmers, whom we are losing rapidly, even as the number of suicides increases in a shrinking population. But this bogus argument remains popular among subsequent idiots who don't verify the bullshit they are fed with when they have propaganda to peddle. You are not the first, and you will not be the last. The activist types don't give a fuck, but bogus data pisses me off, so I suppose I must call this out every time I see it.

Disclosure: Not commenting on the comment about P. Sainath because conflict of interest. I am happy to share that since yesterday, I am on the payroll of the People's Archive of Rural India founded by Sainath, which sadly now will seem like I am defending him in situations like these, when it would just be objecting to rubbish before.

Note: I normally reference and provide data for my posts, but I believe a fact free article at least requires a rebuttal where you have to do the hard work yourself to verify things I say and discover a hundred more horrors I didn't say.

Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board cautions, based on the sparse specifics available in the public domain and comments by authority figures that the government may be concealing information about the magnitude of the accident at KAPS (Kakrapar Atomic Power Station) Unit 1

 

The Kakrapar Unit-1 PHWR Primary System Leakage Incident on March 11, 2016

The Kakrapar Unit-I nuclear reactor in Gujarat is undergoing a moderately large leakage of heavy water from its Primary Heat Transport (PHT) system since 9.00 AM on March 11,2016. From the very limited information released by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of the government , as well as from the conversations I had with press people who have been in touch with nuclear officials, few inferences can be drawn.

Till 7.00 PM on March 12,2016 , the DAE officials have no clue as to where exactly the PHT leak is located and how big is the rate of irradiated heavy water that is leaking into the reactor containment . However, some reports indicate that the containment has been vented to the atmosphere at least once , if not more times , which I suspect indicates a tendency for pressure build up in that closed space due to release of hot heavy water and steam into the containment housing . If this is true, the leak is not small , but moderately large , and still continuing. No one confirms that any one has entered the containment (in protective clothing) for a quick physical assessment of the situation , perhaps it is not safe to do so because of the high radiationfields inside . When NPCIL officials state that the reactor cooling is maintained , I believe what they may be doing is to allow the heavy water or light water stored in the emergency cooling tanks to run once-through the system and continue to pour through the leak into the containment floor through the break .

All this points to the likelihood that what Kakrapar Unit-1 is undergoing is a small Loss-of-Coolant Accident (LOCA) in progress. It is most likely that one or more pressure tubes (PT) in the reactor (which contain the fuel bundles) have cracked open , leaking hot primary system heavy-water coolant into the containment housing . The reactor cooling is said to be maintained which , in view of the PT breach , can only be by supply of heavy water or light water from the storage tanks of the emergency cooling systems . While it may perhaps ensure bulk coolant temperatures in the PHT system to be well under control , it could still mean fuel centreline temperatures in the channel which may have a breach could be quite high . The seriousness of the accident and the potential high risks to the plant and personnel in the near vicinity are yet to be assessed , because NPCIL and AERB do not yet know where the location of the leak is or how to initiate actions to stop it. They were waiting for a team of AERB Specialists to reach Kakrapar in the afternoon of March 12 th. (today) to jointly decide between AERB & NPCIL how to proceed from here on. This is therefore a potentially serious accident in progress , and the DAE, NPCIL and AERB appear to be clearly saying at the moment that they know very little of what is happening. I was just told that a senior team from AERB has reached Kakrapar this evening and now the serious accident investigations will hopefully begin and decisions initiated .

In August 1983 , the Pickering Heavy Water Reactor in Canada had a serious Small LOCA , due to a sudden two-meter long rupture of a pressure tube (PT). Upon later analysis , the cause was found to be the mislocation of annulus gas spacer springs which allowed the pressure tube to sag and contact the calandria tube , leading to hydrogen enrichment of the cooler areas of the PT. This made the tube more brittle in such cooler locations and it ruptured due to the internal fluid pressure. In 1983 , when this accident in Canada occurred , India was under international nuclear sanctions following the Pokhran-1 test and it took some time before root causes of this accident were understood by our Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) institutions. But , the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) did commendable work immediately in analysing the phenomenon of hydriding of PTs in a PHWR , and carried out experiments, developed computer programs and the appropriate PT Integrity Inspection Equipment within the next decade. Based on all this work , a Pressure Tube Aging & Integrity Management Program was develop jointly by BARC & NPCIL , for strict adherence to and use by NPCIL in all their PHWRs. Besides , it was found essential that the PT material has to be changed to Niobium-stabilized Zircalloy , and accordingly all previous Indian PHWRs including Kakrapar Unit-1 were re-tubed with the new alloy tubes in subsequent years . But , this re-tubing did not preclude the need for strictly following of the PT Aging Management Program and the periodic checking of the garter spring position between the PT and the Calandria tube to minimize the PT sagging within the calandria tube. It may be possible that , having built more than 20 PHWRs , NPCIL and AERB in recent years have become overconfident and relaxed their strict adherence to this Aging Management Program , which might have been the reason for the current accident.

Let me caution the reader that the above conjecture is based on bits and pieces of reliable and not so reliable information gathered from different people close to the accident details and in positions of authority. Future detailed evaluation may or may not prove my entire set of conclusions or part of them to be not well-founded. But , technical experts are compelled to put out such conjectures because of the total lack of transparency of the Indian cilvilian nuclear power sector and the atomic energy commission (AEC) , the Dept. of Atomic Energy (DAE) , the NPCIL and the AERB . Public have a need to know and , therefore , the AEC and its sub-ordinate organizations need to promptly release status reports on the progressing safety incident which could affect their lives , to alleviate their concerns and anxieties . It is a series of such lapses in communication over the years which has built up the ever-increasing trust deficit in the DAE system among the general public. All future plans for expanding the civilian nuclear power sector should be put on hold until a truly independent nuclear safety regulator is put in place , who is not controlled by the AEC or the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) , who will then be answerable to openly communicating with the public on all civilian nuclear power matters.

(Dr. Gopalakrishnan is a Former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board , Government of India. He can be reached at agk37@hotmail.com )

This article was originally published on the Dianuke website.

Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM) filed a Contempt Petition (21656 of 2015) on 6th July 2015 initiating proceedings for committing civil contempt of the Hon’ble by violating it’s interim orders dated 23.09.2013 and 16.03.2015 in Writ Petition (Civil) 494 of 2012 and dated 24.02.2014 in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) 2524 of 2014. The contemnors are (1) Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Union of , (2) Swadheen S Kshatriya, Chief Secretary , (3) Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (4) Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner, of India.

NCM noticed that there was a spurt of directives in the last few months by both the Central and State governments violating the orders of the Supreme Court by mandating linkages of benefits to the possession of Aadhaar number. We give below a few examples for the basis of the Contempt Petition.

The Department of Electronics and Communication Technology integrated Aadhaar to draw benefits in the newly launched Digital India Program. The Ministry of Labour and Employment made Aadhaar card compulsory for ESI services. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy made Aadhaar mandatory for receiving capital subsidy. The Ministry of Rural Development made Aadhaar compulsory for MNREGA services.

The Govt. of made Aadhaar compulsory for ration services at Fair Price Shops and for school admissions and the Election Commission of India issued instructions for linking Aadhaar card with Elector’s Photo Identity Card.

In it’s interim order dated 23.09.2013 passed in WP (C) 494 of 2012, the Supreme Court had directed, “in the meanwhile no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar number and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar number voluntarily, it may be checked whether the person is entitled for it under law as it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.” In its order dated 24/03/2014 in SLP 2524/2014 filed by the Unique Identification Authority of India against the Central Bureau of Investigation and others, the Supreme Court had restrained the UIDAI from transferring any biometric information of any person to any other agency without a written consent.

Nagrik Chetna Manch has prayed for prohibition of linkage of Aadhaar number to any benefits, to end the discrimination of persons into Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar residents and restrain the from transferring any biometric information of any person from or to any other agency without specific written permission.

NCM’s Contempt Petition 21656 of 2015 in the Supreme Court

On 6th July 2015, Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM) filed Contempt Petition bearing no. 21656 / 2015 under Art 129 & 142 of the Constitution of India read with section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 for initiating contempt proceedings against the Contemnors for committing Civil Contempt of Hon’ble Supreme Court whereby violating it’s interim orders dated 23.09.2013 and 16.03.2015 passed in WP (C) no. 494 of 2012. As well as order dated 24.02.2014 passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in SLP (Crl) no. 2524 of 2014. Contemnors being (1) Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Union of India, (2) Swadheen S Kshatriya, Chief Secretary Government of Maharashtra, (3) Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (4) Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India.

Earlier NCM had filed WP no. 932 of 2013 in public interest against the use of the UID number by RBI, ECI, RGI and GoI on the grounds mentioned in the WP in which notice had been issued on 19.11.2013 by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the same was tagged with aforesaid WP (C) 494 of 2012.

In it’s interim order dated 23.09.2013 passed in WP (C) no. 494 of 2012, the Hon’ble Supreme Court while feeling importance of this matter, listed it for final hearing. And also directed that in the meanwhile no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar number and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar number voluntarily, it may be checked whether the person is entitled for it under law as it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.

In an order dated 24/03/2014 in another matter Special Leave to Appeal (Crl) No.2524/2014 filed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) against the Central Bureau of Investigation () and others, the Supreme Court had restrained the UIDAI from transferring any biometric information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other agency without his consent in writing. The order further stated that no person shall be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise eligible/entitled. All the authorities were directed to modify their forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Despite these orders neither the nor States and their functionaries have been complying the orders of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit. They have continued to cause suffering by continuously mandating more and more for registration and linkages to the Aadhaar. The NCM quotes a few examples of the violations by the contemnors in the Petition.

The Department of Electronics and Communication Technology, for example, launched the Digital India Program on 1st July 2015. This program integrates Aadhaar as a mandatory feature to draw any benefits. The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India issued advertisement in for making Aadhaar card compulsory for ESI services. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India issued notice No. 5/34/2013-14/RT dated 01.01.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for receiving capital subsidy. The Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India issued letter dated 18.02.2015 and again on 25.02.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for MNREGA services. The Minister of Rural Development, Govt. of India answered a unstarred question on 05.03.2015 whether the Union Government proposes to link accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana with Aadhaar number to transfer subsidy and wages under MGNREGS directly indicating that “The States have been asked to take active measures to link the bank accounts of the workers with their Aadhaar numbers. In order to make use of the benefits under the PMJDY, all States have been requested to undertake an immediate drive to open Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts for all the active wage seekers who already do not have a Bank/ Post Office account in the nearest commercial Bank/ Post Offices. Wherever accounts have been freshly opened by MGNREGA workers under the PMJDY, such accounts are being linked with Aadhaar number of the beneficiaries.”

The Govt. of Maharashtra issued Cabinet Resolution dated 03.03.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for ration services at Fair Price Shops. The Resolution also requires the transfer of biometric information to the Govt. of Maharashtra despite there being no consent in writing of the persons whose biometric it may be. The Govt. of Maharashtra issued GR dated 21.04.2015 for making Aadhaar card compulsory for school admissions.

The Reserve Bank of India issued letter dated 26.11.2013 for making Aadhaar card readers compulsory for all new infrastructure services.

The Election Commission of India issued letter dated 27.02.2015 for linking Aadhaar card with EPIC. This process of seeding is meaningless without discriminating, and thus causing to suffer, those without an Aadhaar.

In the meanwhile as the common man continues to suffer the Aadhaar, NCM has alleged in its Petition 932 of 2013, that the linkage of Aadhaar to various databases is destroying governance and ability to govern. NCM has also highlighted that it will end the rule of law and perhaps even compromise the sovereignty of India. Such linkage of bank accounts to Aadhaar is facilitating money laundering. Linkage of Aadhaar to the EPIC and NPR is destroying the ability to distinguish citizens from residents and giving citizenship to illegal immigrants as well as anti-nationals.

NCM in the CP filed, prays for prohibition of operations related to Aadhaar number by Contemnors forthwith and until final disposal of WP (C) no.494 of 2012, require contemnors to end suffering caused by discrimination of persons into Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar residents through the continued usage or seeding of Aadhaar by any agency and restrain the contemnors from transferring any biometric information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number from or to any other agency.

Qaneez Sukhrani

Secretary, Nagrik Chetna Manch

Telephone: +919822056782

1

On the day after ASN (The Nuclear Safety Authority in France) quietly published the findings of a serious fault in the reactor built by Areva at Flamanville, headlines in India proclaimed our Prime Minister Narendra Modi was out "shopping for nuclear power" in France. Incidentally, this is the reactor India plans for Jaitapur. One would imagine that the discovery of a serious flaw would at least postpone negotiations, if not bring a halt to them, but the Indian media and government both simply seem to have ignored the safety concerns, because today, it seems Modi is also "proud" of achieving this deal.

I suppose as a major world power without a serious nuclear disaster, we are lagging behind the world or something.

The flaw had been found in December, though disclosed only now. Murmurings of quality problems with the reactor have been rife with anti-nuclear activists (who are now supposed to be anti-national in a country aspiring to its own nuclear catastrophe) demanding investigations and tests and data to be made public and opposing it in every manner possible. Well, Areva itself has disclosed this flaw and it has been made public on the official site, so unless Areva is its own foreign-sponsored enemy, it is rather difficult to find a conspiracy here.

Contrast this with France, where the reactor already installed with the flaws is now waiting on an investigation as to its fate. It remains to be known whether the flaw can be corrected. Does it not then appear premature and unwise to invest national commitment on a potentially flawed design that may not be possible to improve on? Contrast this with the alert to China over two reactors also manufactured at the Creusot Forge, in Burgundy, France (owned by Areva) that could potentially contain this flaw. Contrast it with Europe, which is looking at nuclear power as an action against climate change, where the discovery of this flaw has led to calls to exercise caution in proceeding with a similar project and the chances are that the fate of the two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point will likely have to wait till the results of this investigation are known.

The scale of the Flamanville reactor - during installation
The scale of the Flamanville reactor - during installation

The 410 ton reactor in Flamanville was already installed in its concrete well when the flaw in the steel was discovered.The carbon content of steel in the pressure vessel cannot exceed 0.22 per cent due to risk of cracking during operations as well as reducing its operational lifetime. The steel in parts of the Flamanville plant was found to contain 0.30% of carbon. It is not going to be easy to move the 410 ton reactor vessel - if at all it is possible - and it is unclear what method could be used for repairs.

Technical clarifications concerning the manufacturing anomalies on the Flamanville EPR reactor pressure vessel

Investigations are on. An unfavorable review could well mean the final nail in the coffin of France's Nuclear Power industry, already plagued with delays and cost escalations. The plant, already 7 years overdue, had more than doubled its original estimated cost as per EDF's recent estimate from an original 3.3 billion Euro to 8 billion Euro. And this is before this flaw was found. Its start date, already pushed to 2017 is looking extremely unlikely at this point.

The release from ASN is explicit.

The nuclear pressure equipment regulation requires that the manufacturer limits the risks of heterogeneity in the materials used for manufacturing the components most important for safety. In order to address this technical requirement, AREVA carried out chemical and mechanical tests on a vessel head similar to that of the Flamanville EPR. The results of these tests, in late 2014, revealed the presence of a zone in which there was a high carbon concentration, leading to lower than expected mechanical toughness1 values. Initial measurements confirmed the presence of this anomaly in the reactor vessel head and reactor vessel bottom head of the Flamanville EPR. ASN received a proposal from AREVA for a further detailed test campaign on a representative vessel head, starting in April 2015, in order to precisely identify the location of the zone concerned and its mechanical properties.

ASN will make a decision on the acceptability of the test programme, check its correct performance and examine the file to be submitted by AREVA to demonstrate the robustness of the Flamanville EPR reactor vessel. It will also call on the services of its technical support organisation, IRSN (Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety), and the Advisory Committee of Experts for Nuclear Pressure Equipment.

"If the weakness of the vessel is confirmed, I wouldn't hold out much hope for EPR's survival," a former nuclear safety official told Le Parisien.

(FILES) - A photo taken on July 16, 2013 in Flamanville, northwestern France, shows the installation of a dome on a reactor's building on the construction site of the third European generation Pressurised Reactor (EPR). A new "anomaly" in the construction of the EPR at Flamanville was detected in the nuclear reactor, the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire (ASN - Nuclear Safety Authority) announced on April 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAUCHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) - A photo taken on July 16, 2013 in Flamanville, northwestern France, shows the installation of a dome on a reactor's building on the construction site of the third European generation Pressurised Reactor (EPR). A new "anomaly" in the construction of the EPR at Flamanville was detected in the nuclear reactor, the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire (ASN - Nuclear Safety Authority) announced on April 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAUCHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

We discovered with the Rafale deal that India will simply succumb to an agreement against our interest if the other side holds out. We now seem to be discovering that India under Modi is so eager to claim credit for opportunities started but left incomplete by the previous regime that it does not even care for practical considerations for cost or safety. All this, of course is apart from the staunch opposition of locals at the site of the proposed plant - which neither government cared or cares much about, though I suppose the new Land Grab Ordinance (also known as the Land Acquisition Ordinance) will leave the locals with little right over their own land to refuse "development".

It is unclear what exactly Modi claims to be proud of in concluding such a deal.

Why this hurry to submerge tribals and farmers under Narmada waters?

In a shocking decision[1] on June 12, 2014, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), headed by the secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources (MWR), & which includes secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF) and senior officials of four states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan, have sanctioned, in what The Hindu called “emergency meeting” (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/narmada-dam-to-be-higher-by-17-m/article6108571.ece) installation of 17 m high gates on the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada River in Gujarat, taking the effective current height of the dam from 121.92 m to 138.68 m. This has been done after the Rehabilitation sub group (RSG) of the Narmada Control Authority, chaired by secretary, Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) has also cleared this decision. This decision implies submergence of thousands of ha of land and displacement of lakhs of tribals and farmers in three states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, when their rehabilitation, as legally required, has not been done.

Strangely, the government that talks about transparency, had nothing to report on its website (either PIB website or MWR website till 12 noon on June 6, 2014) about this decision, who will be affected, reason for such emergency decision or basis for the decision.

Sardar Sarovar Dam

More importantly, Gujarat & Rajasthan can get their share of water from Narmada river without this height increase and are not able to use even 20% of the water already available to them at the current height. This is clearly unnecessary, unjust and unwarranted decision that is not likely to have even legal sanction. Only additional benefit that increase in height can provide is additional water storage, which will imply about 10-20% additional power generation, in which Gujarat’s share is only 16%: 57% share goes to MP and 27% share goes to Maharashtra.

Sardar Sarovar Dam Project
Sardar Sarovar Dam Project capacity is already not utilized fully. What is the hurry to displace people? Or is it about power generation in power surplus state?

There is some misinformation that this height increase is required to take the water to Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat. This is completely wrong. The Full Supply Level of Narmada Main Canal is 110 m and once water enters this level in the dam, water can be taken to the canals. Once water enters the main canal, it can be taken to the Kutch, Saurashtra and N Gujarat. Based on information we have obtained from SSNNL under RTI, we have seen that Gujarat can get its full share of 9 Million Acre Feet of water at current height and no height increase is necessary. Had Gujarat built the necessary canal distribution system with branch canals, distributary canals, minors, sub minors and field canals to fields in Kutch, Saurashtra and N Gujarat, it could have taken Narmada water to these regions even eight years ago. To suggest that height increase will achieve this is clearly spreading misinformation. Similarly, as far as providing drinking water to the drought prone areas is concerned, height increase is not required to complete that.

Gujarat, in the meantime have increased the share of drinking water (1 MAF) and industrial Water (0.22 MAF) from 0.87 MAF for these combined sectors, at the cost of irrigation, without any participatory or transparent process. (see new share in this report in The Hindu on June 12, 2014: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/a-long-wait-ends-for-gujarat/article6109547.ece).

The claim of Gujarat government that cost of the project has increased because height of the dam has not been raised is completely wrong. The cost of the project is going up (TOI has reported on June 13, 2014 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Narendra-Modi-gives-Gujarat-its-lifeline-Narmada-Dam-height-to-be-raised-by-17-metres-lakhs-will-lose-their-homes-activists-say/articleshow/36453275.cms) that the project has already spent Rs 65369 Crores and ultimate cost is likely to be Rs 90 000/-) because Gujarat government has not been able to complete the canal network and has also been paying huge amounts to service the debt.

It is shocking that all the officials of the central and state governments and all the concerned ministers (including Water Resources Minister Ms Uma Bharti, Environment Minister Mr Prakash Javdekar, Social Justice Minister Mr Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in addition to Gujarat and MP Chief Ministers) have towed the line dictated by Prime Minister Mr Modi and Gujarat Government in this regard, within two weeks of new government taking over. No additional rehabilitation could have been accomplished in these two weeks, which seems to indicate that a political decision has been taken, without considering the ground realities, merits or justification of the decision or necessity of the decision. This does not bode good for the functioning of the new government.

It should be noted here that the installation of gates will take three years, and in any case, for closing the gates, the project will need clearance from Environment Sub Group, RSG and NCA again. Secondly, the gates have been lying in the yard of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) for many years and a question mark was raised about the safety of the gates in a recent meeting of the Sardar Sarovar Construction Advisory Committee. Now, as The Times of India reported on June 13, 2014 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Use-of-30-year-old-gates-worries-experts/articleshow/36453333.cms), even former Gujarat Government officials are raising the issue of old technology of 30 year old gates when new technology gates would be also be safer. In view of all this, it may have been better, as Narmada Bachao Andolan has suggested, for the government to first take proper stock of the situation rather than rush into this “emergency” decision on the eve of the monsoon, when no work is in any case possible in monsoon.

It is also shocking that even before the RSG and NCA were to take the decision; Gujarat Government was already busy preparing for celebratory meeting at the Dam site. This shows that the functioning of the statutory bodies has been taken for granted and their decision was pre-determined, as directed by higher authorities.

Gujarat can get its water share without increase in height The new government wants to take the SSP Dam from its current height of 121.92 m to its final design height of 138.68 m. Firstly, there are serious doubts if this height increase is required since it can be shown that Gujarat and Rajasthan can get their share of water from Narmada without this increase in height. Secondly, Gujarat is not even in a position to use more than 20% of the water it already gets from the river at current height of the dam for the purposes for which the project was designed: providing water for the drought affected regions in Kutch, Saurashtra & North Gujarat. On the other hand, urban centres, industrials areas, SEZs, cosmetic river beautification schemes have appropriated a large chunk of SSP waters without legal, democratic sanction or justification. Gujarat really does not have a case for increasing the height of SSP Dam.

Moreover, this will also entail such massive additional submergence, displacement and disruption of lives of tribals and farmers that it is sure to create huge opposition. Narmada Bachao Andolan estimates that an additional 2.5 lakh people will face unjust submergence in three states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The just rehabilitation of already affected people is far from complete, in fact, most of the affected population has not been given minimum 2 ha of land required under the Narmada Tribunal award and subsequent accepted policies.

Mr Modi during his tenure of 13 years as Chief Minister of Gujarat failed to complete the canal network of SSP in the drought prone areas in whose name the project has always been justified. It needs to be noted that the agitation against SSP did not stop Gujarat government from going ahead with construction of canal network. It was not for lack of finances that SSP could not complete the canal network. SSP has been getting largest quantum of money from the Government of India’s Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme ever since the AIBP scheme started in 1996. This support to SSP from AIBP was clearly wrong since SSP was never the last mile project for which AIBP was meant, but the big dam lobby in Union Water Resources ministry and Gujarat government were hand in glove in this misallocation of AIBP money for SSP. In fact, Mr Modi arm-twisted the Planning Commission in 2011-12 to sanction the escalated costs for SSP even when the issues raised by Planning Commission officers remained unanswered.

It is the ineptitude of Gujarat Government under Mr Modi that is on show as to why it could not complete the canal network on drought prone areas in Gujarat. Mr Modi would do well to remember the reasons for that failure before he considers the mega projects agenda as Prime Minister.

Moreover, on SSP, the issues of completing repairs of the damages the Sardar Sarovar dam structure suffered four years ago & related issue of safety of the dam are yet to be resolved[2] and Gujarat has embarked on building another Garudeshwar Dam in immediate downstream without any impact assessments, participatory democratic process or required sanctions[3]. The legality of the Garudeshwar Dam work stands challenged in the National Green Tribunal by the affected tribals.

Conclusion This unnecessary, unwarranted and unjust decision is not going to go down well with any right thinking person. The new government at the center is clearly treading a path that is bound to raise huge uproar and make the common person on street question: for whom and for what purpose is this government working. It would be in best interest of everyone if the government was so confident, to get this debated in the Parliament.

Post by Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com) published originally under Creative Commons licence at the SANDRP blog.