EAS Sarma, former secretary of the Government of India, has demanded that action be initiated to blacklist the parts supplier company, Areva, and its subsidiary, Creusot Forge, for doing business in India. Citing various events and reports, Mr Sarma, in a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) alleges that the French company have falsified quality certificates and supplied substandard parts. The same company is also expected to supply equipment for the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra.
“While US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has had no hesitation whatsoever to divulge these details to the public, India’s DAE seems to be secretive about this for reasons best known to it. There are serious public safety concerns, in addition to the fact that DAE has adopted a highly non-transparent non-competitive procedure for choosing the company and negotiating the price,” he writes to Dr Sekhar Basu, Secretary of the DAE.
He further adds, “Considering that Areva has had not too glorious a track record edging on false certification, I feel that DAE should revoke the agreement, if any, already entered into with Areva, notwithstanding the fact that the Prime Minister of India signed a protocol with his French counterpart. Apparently, the DAE had not apprised the PM of the implications of signing such a protocol.”
In support of his plea, Mr Sarma submitted reports of various nuclear mishaps that took place due to Areva’s substandard supply of parts, including the Nuclear Industry in France Crisis report of 9 November 2016, in which the French nuclear regulator, Autorite de Surete Nucleaire (ASN), had questioned the French nuclear manufacturing companies, namely, EDF and Areva, on the extent to which their plants have such substandard components and their adverse impact on the safety of those plants. Sensitive to the potential danger of operating such plants, France has closed down 20 nuclear plants already.
“These are serious matters on which DAE and Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) cannot afford to feign ignorance and pretend that the public here in India would never come to know about these developments. DAE, presided over by the Prime Minister (PM) himself, has the moral obligation to get at the root of this problem and inform the public about the magnitude of the problem and the corrective action taken. This assumes importance against the background of the PM signing an agreement with France earlier and an agreement now with Japan on bilateral cooperation in the area of nuclear power development,” the former Cabinet Secretary said.
In light of the disheartening response from the authorities, Mr Sarma says, “I feel surprised and distressed at the way DAE has chosen to remain totally unresponsive to my numerous cautionary letters on the subject and opted in favour of going ahead with the proposal to negotiate with Areva. This, in my view, is highly objectionable and it raises concerns of propriety, both technical and financial. An independent investigation, I am sure, will highlight the fears I have been expressing. What really distresses me most is that the Indian regulator, AERB too has chosen to remain passive, without opening its eyes and ears to the public disclosures made by both the French and the US regulators. Despite my cautioning the DAE, if any further negotiations are conducted with Areva, the government will be taking a serious risk,” he adds.
Further, ridiculing the DAEs ignorance towards the sudden involvement of China, Mr Sarma says “DAE has not cared even to acknowledge the receipt of my letter. Either DAE is ignorant of this development or it is deliberately keeping the public in the dark about the Chinese entering the picture. Is not DAE concerned about placing the fuel lifeline of the Kovvada project in the hands of China?”
Despite various efforts from Mr Sarma, his plea seems to be falling on deaf ears. There seems to be no effective action that has taken place on the part of the authorities, showing astonishing disregard for the safety of the citizens. This caused Mr Sarma to take the next step and go on to mark a copy of his letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) requesting that this matter be placed before the PM himself for taking an objective view consistent with the public interest.http://www.moneylife.in/article/take-action-against-areva-for-supplying-substandard-parts-false-quality-certificates-eas-sarma/49817.html