Monday, December 28, 2015

Let us avoid “Nuclear Disaster Made in India” at Kovvada

The dangers of “Untested & Expensive Imported Reactors” pointed out in the Article“The Strange Love for Nuclear Energy” by Prof.M.V. Ramana & Prof.Suvrat Raju, published in The Hindu of 17 th December 2015, are highlighted below:

Dangers of Untested Nuclear Reactors

The“ Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactors” (ESBWR) developed by General Electric (GE) in collaboration with Japan's Hitachi are proposed for Kovvada Nuclear Power Project. (KNPP). The same GE, which built the Fukushima Reactors, was considered a “laggard” in the industry even before its reputation was damaged by Fukushima Disaster in 2011.Since then GE struggled to find buyers for its ESBWR design, which was certified by the U S Nuclear Regulatory Commission only in 2014.

These untested and unproven reactors provide no empirical track record of safe operation, in spite of tall claims by the suppliers based on unreliable theoretical grounds. The industry is itself well aware of possibility of devastating accident, as is clear from its constant efforts to alter India's Nuclear Liability Law.

Lessons from Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of Japan

The Fukushima disaster, which has not been contained even after 4 years, continues to remind many Japanese of the dangers of Nuclear Power. Despite a strong push by the Abe Govt., Nuclear Power finds little support in the country. A poll conducted by a Japanese national news paper in 2014, found that 77% of respondents supported a phase-out of Nuclear Power.
More than 50 years ago, Japan succumbed to pressure from Nuclear Suppliers and initiated a law to indemnify them. Consequently, when the GE Reactors at Fukushima suffered an accident, in part due to design defect that had been pointed out decades earlier, G E was protected from any claims from victims. The cost of the Clean-up, estimated at about $200 billion, has been born almost entirely by Japanese Tax-Payers.

Expensive Nuclear Power

Apart from being hazardous by way of Nuclear Waste generated and likely disasters caused due to design / equipment failures of unproven imported Nuclear Reactors, the Nuclear Power from Imported Reactors is going to be prohibitively expensive source of electrical energy, because of their astronomical capital costs.

A Reactor that costs $11.6 billions in Europe is likely to lead to a first-year tariff of Rs.19 per unit of electricity, against the range of Rs.4.50 to Rs.5.50 per unit of electricity from Coal & Solar Power. If the real and full cost of insurance against accidents of Nuclear Reactors is included in the price, it is going to be prohibitive.

Nuclear Power from the G. E. Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactors (ESBWR) is a Very Expensive, Sophisticated and Dangerous Way to Boil Water. The “Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct and the actual product is forever deadly Radioactive Waste.”

Does Nuclear Power provide Energy Security?

The projection of huge growth of power generating capacity to 800,000 MW by 2031-32 (about 4 times from the present level), to sustain annual growth rate of 8% to 10% .for the next 20 years, seems to be based on the “Supply Syndrome”, rather than the thrust to improve efficiencies in the Power Sector.

The hollowness of the argument that India needs Nuclear Power for ensuring Energy Security, can be seen from the fact that it hardly contributes to around 2.50% of the present installed capacity, in spite of huge investments in mega centralized Nuclear Power Projects during the last 4 decades or so.

Even assuming that the projected installed capacity of 60,000 MW of Nuclear Power will be achieved by 2031-32, (which, going by the past record, is most unlikely), at huge financial costs under the Myth of Nuclear Safety, it hardly contributes to 7.5% of the projected total installed capacity of 800,000 MW by then, which is no where near providing energy security.

The Nation’s Energy Security depends on efficient use of Energy Services that maximize economic competitiveness and minimize resource depletion, environmental degradation / impacts. The Energy Efficiency / Conservation Measures coupled with distributed and decentralized Renewable Sources of Energy can compensate for more than the proposed Nuclear Power capacity by 2032. It is much cheaper and environment friendly option for Energy Security.


Japan is the unique country which experienced Nuclear Bomb and Nuclear Power Reactor Accident. Both are quite delicate and sensitive to the Japanese Psyche, forcing the Government to respect the public sentiments in respect of Nuclear Power Policy and shutting down all of its Nuclear Power Reactors. Germany, a major consumer of nuclear power, permanently closed 8 of its 17 nuclear reactors following Fukushima; other European countries shelved their Nuclear Plans.

It is time for India to review and reconsider the option of going for Mega  Imported expensive & untested Nuclear Reactors and locating them at places like Kovvada reported to be unsafe, ignoring Safety Precautions and the Public Opinion.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

BRS / VRS & Govt. Lands Sale - Death Knell of Hyderabad

HMDA Master Plan 2031

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Plan covering an area of 5965 Sq Kms., notified vide G.O. Ms No 33 dated 24-01-2013, is planned for a time period up to 2031, taking into consideration population of about 184 lakhs, with work force of 65 lakhs. Also taking into account, the present trends of developments, the Inner Ring Road, the Outer Ring Road & Radial Roads, it has proposed a radial-concentric structure of development with new urban nodes and urban centers in all directions to promote balanced development in the Hyderabad Metropolitan Region with a Peri Urban Zone all along the urban area, hierarchy of circulation network to cater to the present and future travel needs of population and activities.
Accordingly, Zoning & Development Promotion Regulations are formulated, conducive to balanced, integrated, comprehensive and sustainable development of area in HMDA, so as to provide congenial surroundings and Good Quality of Life, aspired by Urban Population.

As per Zoning Regulations, the following Land Use Zones are classified in the Master Plan:
1.Residential (R1 to R4)
5.Public, Semi Public Facilities & Utilities
6.Multiple Use
7.Recreation & Open Space & Open Space Buffer around Water Bodies
8. Water Bodies
9. Forest
10. Special Reservation ( Heritage Bldgs.& Precincts, Defence Lands, Bio-
      Conservation & Others reserved for special use)
11. Conservation ( Agriculture)
12. Traffic & Transport ( Roads, Railways , Railway Stations, Bus Stands/
       Stations, Airports and Allied Infrastructure )
Note: The Land Use under Water Bodies, Green Buffers around Water
             Bodies, Forests & Bio Conservation is designated as Protected
           and their Land Use Change is not to be permitted.

Metropolitan Planning Committee
As per the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed on 27-3-2006, seeking financial assistance under JNNURM to Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH), it was agreed to constitute Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), vide Article 243- ZE, by March 2008. And also the resolution by State Government, expressing commitment to implement 74 th Amendment Act, was to be passed within 6 months from the date of MOA & copy submitted to MOUD, GOI.

Accordingly, the Urban Areas are to function as institutions of self government in accordance with Article 243 W of the Constitution of India. And also any changes to approved Master Plans prepared by MPC are to be considered and recommended by MPC to the Govt. as per Article 243 ZE.

BRS & LRS Proposals
Any unilateral regularization of of Buildings / Layouts undertaken in violation of Zoning & Development Promotion Regulations formulated under notified HMDA Master Plan 2031, amounts to violation of Seventy-Fourth Amendment Act of 1992 and MOA signed under JNNURM.
In particular, Building Regularization Scheme (BRS) & Layout Regularization Scheme (LRS) approvals in Water Bodies, Green Buffers around Water Bodies, Forests & Bio Conservation Areas, designated as Protected and whose Land use cannot be changed, may amount to be a Criminal Offense. In this connection, the Chennai High Court order holding “TN Govt responsible for flooding &deaths, as it let Land Sharks Swallow Water Bodies” is relevant.
As per Press Reports , Telangana Govt is reported to have relaxed Rules- Minimum Setbacks & Height -for issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) for Buildings by the Fire Services Department while regularizing unauthorized buildings under BRS. This is nothing but bending backwards to help/accommodate Owners & Builders of Illegal Structures in violation of National Building Code, Fire Safety & Prevention Rules, Norms of State Disaster Response etc, which may prove to be disastrous to public safety. Where is the Accountability ?

Sale of Govt Land
As HMDA Master Plan 2031 is prepared for estimated population of 184 lakhs by 2031, there is going to be tremendous pressure on land-use and the traffic for intra urban travel. The Implementer of Master Plan will have to give importance and priority for preservation and protection of natural resources such as Water Bodies, Forests, Parks, Hillocks, Open Spaces, Heritage Bldgs, & Precincts , with out treating Urban Land as a Commodity as it is being done all these years.

Protected Areas
The sale of Land, covered under Water Bodies, Green Buffers around Water Bodies, Forests, Bio Conservation, which are designated as Protected should be treated beyond the scope of any future Land transactions as it amounts to selling Environment / Future, in violation of provisions of Articles 48-A and 51-A (g).

Conservation Area ( Agriculture )

The area covered under Agriculture in HMDA area has already come down drastically, because of rapid urban growth around Hyderabad during the last 2 decades or so. This contributed to micro-climatic changes having adverse impact on Quality of Life and shortage of Vegetables, Fruits , Flowers etc grown in the vicinity.

Traffic & Transport Area

The City which is already experiencing serious traffic bottle necks resulting in, far too many Road Accidents, serious Air Pollution etc, cannot afford to loose, any area earmarked for meeting the growing traffic & transport needs up to 2031.

Public, Semi Public Facilities & Utilities
As it is, there is acute shortage of Public Schools, Social & Welfare Centers, Group Housing Facilities, Public Utility Bldgs, Water Supply, Drainage & Sewage Systems, Other Services, Night Shelters etc. As the requirement is going to be multiplied to cater for the growing needs, any reduction of already earmarked area, is bound to have serious adverse impacts on the delivery of essential Public facilities, utilities & services.
Recreation & Open Space
The A.P. High Court in its landmark judgment on WRIT PETITIONS W.P. Nos.25835/96 and 35/97,observed "None of the respondents have been able to dispute the averment on behalf of the Petitioners and interveners that the City's Parks and other Open Spaces are hopelessly inadequate as per the standard in this behalf ……The city is already breathing less than required breath and further depletions, by acts of the state, of the lung spaces of the city will make the breathing more difficult" (Pages 51 - 52).

"Since we have found that the respondents have acted in violation of the fundamental rights of the Petitioners and others similarly situated and we have taken the view that any conversion of the parks to any other use, would violate the rights under Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India, we unhesitatingly accept the Petitioners' plea that respondents have to be restrained from converting the parks to any other use" (Page 59).

"Whatever little scope was available to argue that the Government of the State represent the sovereign and retained thus its eminent domain in deciding in respect of the use of a public place one way or the other is taken away by the Constitution (Seventy-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1992 and Article 243W(a) therein read with the list in the Twelfth Schedule" (Page 49).

In the light of the facts stated in the preceding paragraphs, the State Govt should not be permitted, to unilaterally change the specified Land Use and/or dispose off Govt. Lands, with the sole object of mobilizing the required funds to meet present day requirements. It amounts to treating the precious Urban Land as a Commodity and Depriving the Future Generations, just to cater for the present, without fully evaluating and assessing the long term Environmental, Social and Economic implications.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Draft National Civil Aviation Policy 2015

Taking Flying to the Masses

According to Draft Policy, the Government, proposed to take Flying to the Masses by making it affordable mode of travel for the Common Man. It aims to ensure that at least one member of India's 30 Crore strong middle class families flies once a year, against present 7 Crore domestic fliers in 2014-15.

Priorities of Common Man ?

No doubt it is a laudable objective, but should it take priority over fulfillment of Common Man inherent rights to Food, Energy, Shelter, Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation, Health Care, Education, Economic Empowerment, Social Security and Basic Human Dignity? It is estimated that around 60 Crore Indians are deprived and cannot meet their essential needs. How is 30 Crore middle class people flying once a year, going to help these deprived lot ?

Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)

As per the draft policy, Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) will come into effect from 1 April 2016, with an all-inclusive airfare not exceeding Rs. 2500 per passenger, indexed to inflation for a one-hour flight on RCS routes. As part of RCS, around 476 un-served or under-served aerodromes and airstrips are proposed to be revived as No-Frills Airports, by offering various incentives / concessions to operators of Short Haul Flights.

Transport Sector & Climate Change

The Planning Commission Expert Group Final Report of April 2014 on “Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth”, highlighted the fact that Transport Sector is a significant contributor to the emissions generated by the country, accounting for about 13 % of the emissions from the energy sector. Out of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector of about 142 million tons(mt.) of CO2 eq. in the year 2007, Aviation accounts for 10.20 mt, against 6.80 mt from Railways and the balance 125 mt from Road Transport.
 The Report highlighted lower Specific Energy Consumption in Railways, as low as 6% of consumption in Aviation per Passenger KM vide Table 6-6 of Chapter 6- Transport of the Report. Given the relative efficiency of Rail based Transport, the Report recommended increasing the share of Rail for both short distance passenger movement (regional, suburban and urban)and long distance passenger movement.
Impact of Aviation Sector (Rogue Sector) on Climate Change
In attempting to aggregate and quantify the total Climate Impact of Aircraft emissions- heat, particulates, gases etc- the IPCC has estimated that Aviation’s total climate impact is some 2-4 times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone. While there is uncertainty about the exact level of NOx and Water Vapour, Governments have accepted the broad scientific view that they do have an effect.

The IPCC has estimated that Aviation is responsible for around 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change, a figure which includes both CO2 and non CO2 induced effects. It is estimated that Aviation's contribution could grow to 5% of total contribution by 2050, if action is not taken to tackle these emissions. In terms of damage to climate, it is estimated that Flying is 10 times worse than taking to Train. The Air-Travel is estimated to release 75% more CO2 per passenger, mile for mile, than driving an economy sized car.
The Aviation Sector was reported to be responsible for more than 10 % of the UK's impact on the climate and it is the fastest growing source of emissions and the predictions are that aviation will contribute more than 25% by 2050.The main cause of this massive growth of emissions is proliferation of Domestic Short-Haul Routes. As per data available, Domestic Short Haul flights less than 500 Kms are estimated to release 257 gms. CO2 per KM as against 177 gms. in the case of flights > 500 Kms, in comparison with 113 gms for long distance flights.
Adverse Impact of Government Aviation Policy
The Climate Change is the most urgent challenge facing the humanity and the Aviation Policy of the Central & State Governments, is doing the opposite of what is required, by catering to insatiable demands of Aviation Sector, by way of more Airports, Runways, Terminals, Airlines. etc. in the name of economic development. The latest being “Regional Connectivity Scheme”
The subsidies, liberal concessions, loans etc offered to Aviation Sector by taxpayers’ money,(Classic one being the massive loan package given to Kingfisher Airlines by SBI Consortium) disproportionately favours the economically better off, as those of lower income groups, who fly infrequently or not at all. This goes against the very guiding principle of protecting the poor and vulnerable sections of society, through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy, sensitive to Climate Change.
It is of utmost importance and urgency to curtail emissions by restricting the capacity of Aviation Sector- Short-Haul Routes envisaged in “Regional Connectivity Scheme” of Draft National Aviation Policy, without hampering the economic development. The speedy & effective implementation of Recommendations in Section 6.3 of Report on “Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth” with regard to Transport, will go a long way in combating Climate Change.