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Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS), India


Description

The Rawatbhata nuclear power station (RAPS) is built at Rawatbhata, District Chittorgarh, near the Maharana Pratap Dam in Rajasthan. There are 6 Units operating today. The first two Indian PHWRs- RAPS-I and RAPS-2 were taken up for construction as a joint venture with Canada in the 60s. They are situated in Rawatbhata, a remote village in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan and about 64 kilometres from the industrial town of Kota.

The land selected is in between the Rana Pratap Sagar Dam and Gandhi Sagar Dam at the right bank of the Chambal river. The water from the reservoir meets the requirement of nuclear power stations. The site is ideally located and also well connected by the Railways. Commercial operation of RAPS-I began in December 1973. However, during the construction of RAPS-2 the Canadian support was abruptly withdrawn after the peaceful nuclear experiment conducted by India in 1974 at Pokharan. But, Indian know-how and capability largely helped in its advancement. RAPS-2 started commercial operation in 1981. Overcoming the initial teething problems both the plants are now working at optimum capacity levels [9] Beside the already operating reactor, the Union Government has given financial sanction for establishment of two new power reactors of 700 MW capacity each at the Rawatbhata Atomic Power Station (RAPS) in Rajasthan [2] The capacity of RAPS would go up to 2,580 MW after the projects completion in 2016-17 [1, 3,5 ] The Units 3 & 4 of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-3 & 4) were dedicated to the nation on March 18, 2001 by the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee[1]. The Union Government has given financial sanction for establishment of two new power reactors of 700 MW capacity each at the Rawatbhata Atomic Power Station (RAPS)in 2010 [2].

After nuclear disaster in Fukushima (Japan), locals in Rajasthan s Chittorgarh district have expressed concerns due to the proximity of their homes to the Rawatbhata nuclear power plant. Local people consider the project as vulnerable in wake of an occurrence of an earthquake or flood. According to locals, in case of an accident the leaks from the reactors core can be extremely dangerous and threatening in the surrounding community [2]. Environmentalists fear that in the future heavy downpour could damage the dams and wash out the plant completely. This will expose locals to harmful radiations. If the cooling system of the nuclear reactor ever fails, the toxic elements from the plant could mix in the water from the lake. This would be hazardous for the population living here and in the nearby villages. The radiation will have prolonged affects in the 16-kilometer stretch of Rawatbhata and will continue to haunt the residents of nearby villages for a long time. Meanwhile, local medical institutions say there has been a striking rise in the number of abortion and cancer cases in this region in the last few years. Doctors attribute this condition to the increasing radiations from the nuclear plant, which is beginning to affect the overall population [3].

There are also safety concerns about the workers in the plant. As reported by various newspapers that in June 2012, about 38 workers in the Rawatbhata Atomic Power Station (RAPS) being exposed to tritium leak while working in the reactor no. 5. [4,8] The RAPS had two pressurized heavy water reactors commissioned in the seventies. Recently the rehabilitation and safety upgradation process was carried out to increase their longevity. With the commissioning of another two units and a Heavy Water Plant operating nearby, Rawatbhata has become the largest nuclear centre of the country.

Basic Data

NameRajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS), India
CountryIndia
ProvinceRajasthan
SiteRawatbhata; District- Chittorgarh
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Nuclear power plants
Specific CommoditiesWater

Titanium ores
Uranium

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsIt has six nuclear power reactors at present with the total installed capacity of 1,180 MW. [1]
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population20
Start Date2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesAtomic Energy of Canada Limited from Canada
Nuclear Power Corporarion of India Ltd (NPCIL) from India
Relevant government actorsGovernment of India, Government of Rajasthan
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNational Alliance of Peoples Movements [NAPM], People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament & Peace (CNDP), : The local section of BJP also opposed the plant.

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
The locals, supported by the local BJP unit, had even called for a bandh in June 2012 at Rawatbhata on the safety issue issue surrounding the plant. Supported by hundreds of locals and party workers, BJP leaders from the area led a major protest rally, which ended in mass arrests. Those arrested were later released. The locals were also demanding development of infrastructure around the RAPS site [10].
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Local BJP leaders organised rally proceeded towards the RAPS site. Later, the agitators submitted a memorandum to the additional district magistrate in support of their demands [10]

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Compensation:::New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study:::Strengthening of participation

Sources and Materials

Legislations

[4] Irradiated Lives: Contractual Workers at the Rawatbhata Nuclear Power Plant - See more at:
http://www.dianuke.org/irradiated-lives-contractual-workers-at-the-rawatbhata-nuclear-power-plant/#sthash.m7RgigkC.dpuf

[1] Nuclear India
http://dae.nic.in/?q=node/114

[2] Fear of radiation grips locals residing near Rajasthans Rawatbhata nuclear power plant
http://in.news.yahoo.com/fear-radiation-grips-locals-residing-near-rajasthans-rawatbhata-144421769.html

[3] Centres nod for two power reactors
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/centres-nod-for-two-power-reactors/article942912.ece

[5] IAEA team raised serious safety issues at Rawatbhata, say activists
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iaea-team-raised-serious-safety-issues-at-rawatbhata-say-activists/article4085811.ece

[6] Activists cast doubts over IAEA review of Rajasthan atomic power plant
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/activists-cast-doubts-over-iaea-review-of-rajasthan-atomic-power-plant/article4086686.ece

[7] Safety review of Rawatbhata plant underway
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/safety-review-of-rawatbhata-plant-underway/article4045874.ece

[8] Rawatbhata nuclear power station reports another tritium leak
http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/rawatbhata-nuclear-power-station-reports-another-tritium-leak/article3679263.ece

[9] RAJASTHAN ATOMIC POWER STATION : THE PRIDE OF THE NATION
http://pib.nic.in/feature/feyr2001/foct2001/f151020011.html

[10] BJP, locals protest against proposed nuke site at Rawatbhata
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-16/jaipur/32268990_1_locals-protest-bjp-leaders

Down To Earth - Deaf to nuclear plant protests
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/deaf-nuclear-plant-protests

The New York Times - Farmers Fight Nuclear Plant in Bid to Save Land
http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/farmers-fight-for-land-against-nuclear-plant/

References

Is India s nuclear industry safe?
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3720190.htm

Media Links

Swapan Kumar Patra

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ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update08/04/2014