India rejoices as n-deal leaps across NSG hurdle

September 6th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) The nuclear deal may not be the common’s man fodder for thought, mired as it is in legalese and technical overload, but Saturday thinking India rejoiced as the civilian nuclear energy pact jumped the final obstacle in its path towards fruition.The refrain was that it was a positive development for India faced with massive shortfalls in energy sector, rising production costs and fuel insecurities.

If the goal is to become a geo-political superpower by 2020, then the waiver at the meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) in Vienna has set the process in motion, said a cross-section of people interviewed by the IANS at random.

“If we are to join the league of global superpowers by another 20-25 years, then we need nuclear power. The process has just started,” said Sandeep Sen, director of the Delhi-based National Advertising Agency.

Entry into the bloc of developed nations is not possible without adequate energy at the disposal of the country because power keeps the industrial cogs spinning, Sen explained.

Political compulsions aside, in today’s world of changing climate, global warming, eco-concerns and imbalance in the land-man ratio, nuclear power is an absolute necessity to be at the forefront of the second generation of developed nations like Brazil, Peru and Australia, the owner of the advertising agency said.

Security and investment analyst Manoj Krishnan said abundance of nuclear power would drastically reduce the cost of power production dramatically. “Coal and natural gas pollute. Hence, nuclear power is a better alternative,” Krishnan said.

Breaking up costs, Krishnan said building a nuclear power plant costs on an average approximately Rs.7-8 million (7-8 crores) to manufacture one megawatt of power in contrast to hydel and thermal power plants that cost Rs.4 crore and Rs. 5 crore respectively.

“But it requires less money to run a nuclear plant in the long run,” said Krishnan, who claimed that he had been tracking the deal very closely on the Internet and television.

He said the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) which had decided to increase its capacity to 45,000 MW in the last fiscal had to put its plans on hold because of fuel insecurities. The deal, explained the market analyst, would have an impact on energy sector.

“Companies like Tata Power, Reliance Energy and NTPC which have promised to increase their capacities multi-fold in the next five years will be the first ones to benefit. But firms like Larsen & Toubro, Areba and BHEL that have already announced their modernisation plans could face major upsets. Reliance Energy has promised to push up its capacity from the existing 13,510 MW to 15,000 MW.

“They would either aggressively look to the upside of nuclear power or would have to come up with expansion plans without nuclear power,” he said. Krishnan said it would approximately cost 80 paise to manufacture one unit of nuclear power.

Delhi-based lawyer Rebecca Maman said she would rather trust the government of the day. “The government would not have pushed itself this far had it not been serious about the deal. By and large, I would like to take the government on its face value,” she said. Retired army general Shankar Prasad felt he was very relieved that it had happened to India.

“It will benefit several sectors like energy, technology, partnerships with the US and also rework the balance of power vis-a-vis India’s position at the nuclear high table,” he said.

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