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CPI-M fires fresh salvo over N-deal

Refusing to give the Congress any respite, the CPI-M today fired another salvo, accusing the party of "promoting a bad nuclear deal" backed by "mythical energy claims".
By HT Correspondent | IANS, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 21, 2008 09:07 PM IST

Refusing to give the Congress any respite, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Saturday fired another salvo, accusing the party of "promoting a bad nuclear deal" backed by "mythical energy claims" with the "real intent" of strengthening India-US strategic ties.

It also said the government was "dragging its feet" on promoting the Iran gas pipeline project due to the US.

"Mythical energy claims are being made in order to promote a bad nuclear deal. Energy is just a cover. The real intent is India-US strategic ties," said the CPI-M politburo in a statement.

"The Congress leadership and the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government are propagating that the Indo-US nuclear deal is absolutely essential for India's energy security. A massive disinformation campaign has been mounted that nuclear energy is a solution not only to the shortage of electricity in the country but also an answer to the oil price rise," said the CPI-M.

"This is nothing but a cover to promote the strategic ties with the US," the party held. Accusing the government of creating a fake uranium shortage, the politburo said: "It appears that the spectre of uranium shortage has been created only to push a deal that is not in India's favour".

Hitting out at the UPA government, the politburo said: ""Energy security does not lie in helping a moribund US nuclear industry to sell us billions of dollars of reactors, which nobody is buying in the US."

CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat on Friday made it clear that the Left parties are in no mood to budge from their stand on the India-US nuclear deal and that the meeting of the nuclear committee on June 25 will decide the fate of the government.

The CPI-M has made it clear it will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the nuclear deal does not come through.

"As it is difficult to promote India-US strategic ties directly, therefore the recourse to false claims that nuclear energy will at one stroke reduce not only our oil consumption but also remove our power shortages," said the politburo statement.

It issued a point by point rebuttal of the arguments given by the UPA government for supporting the deal.

More than 50 percent of India's oil consumption is in the transport sector - cars, buses and trucks and the rest in petrochemicals and fertilisers. Only a negligible amount is used in the power plants. Nuclear energy has very little to do with oil - it cannot be used as a substitute for oil, the CPI-M said.

"On the other hand, natural gas from Iran would insulate India substantively from the oil price shocks. The government has been dragging its feet over the Iran Gas Pipeline project at the behest of the US and in consideration of the Hyde Act," the party politburo said.

The politburo in its statement has listed the causes of power shortage, primary among them is that the government has starved the power sector of public investments in the last two decades.

"Even if the deal is signed today, it will take about eight years before any electricity is produced from imported reactors under the deal," the CPI-M said.

It pointed out the cost of installing nuclear power plants using imported reactors is three times that of coal-fired plants of the same size.

"The quickest and cheapest way to remove the current electricity shortages is to build coal-fired plants which take half the time required by nuclear plants," said the CPI-M.
However, it conceded that nuclear energy has an important place in India's energy option.

"This should be based on our indigenous technology and our indigenous resources to ensure energy security," the party added.

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