Dhaka to construct firstnuclear plant from October

Updated 23 January 2013
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Dhaka to construct firstnuclear plant from October

DHAKA: Bangladesh will start building its first nuclear power plant by October this year after signing a loan deal with Russia to fund the construction, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced yesterday.
The Rooppur nuclear power plant in the country’s northwest will have two reactors with each producing 1,000 megawatts and it will be built with the help of Russian state-owned nuclear giant Rosatom, Hasina said.
The plant is seen as a necessary but risky move by the power-starved country to diversify its energy mix as Dhaka has been overwhelmingly relying on its fast dwindling gas reserves to produce electricity for its booming economy.
“Rosatom has shown special interest to start the main construction work of the nuclear power plant within this year,” Hasina said, briefing reporters on a $500 million loan deal she signed with Russia last week.
“Design has to be complete by May. Construction area will be prepared by August and the main construction work will begin by September-October,” she said.
She said soft loans from Russia would finance 90 percent of the plant, estimated to cost around $4 billion, with an initial half a billion loan to be used for preparatory work. The prime minister dismissed safety concerns, saying that Russia would take back and deal with the nuclear waste.
Bangladesh’s atomic energy agency signed a deal with Rosatom in November 2011 to build the plant, but work has been delayed as Dhaka had to ratify a series of laws to make sure it addresses all safety issues. Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko had said the Rooppur plant would be designed to avoid the kind of accidents that took place at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Bangladesh has long suffered severe power outages as demand for electricity soars on the back of a booming economy that has grown at around six percent a year since 2004.
The power crisis worsens in the summer when the gap between demand and supply shoots up to 2,000 megawatts per day due to years of under-investment.
Officials say Bangladesh needs to build the nuclear plant because reserves of is main source of energy — natural gas — are fast depleting and could run out in a decade.


Indian police face fury over shooting deaths of 10 protesters

Updated 23 May 2018
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Indian police face fury over shooting deaths of 10 protesters

CHENNAI: Outrage swelled Wednesday over the deaths of 10 protesters at a rally over a copper plant in southern India, after police opened fire on demonstrators in what critics termed “mass murder.”
Violence erupted Tuesday in Tamil Nadu state at a long-running demonstration demanding the closure of the smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources which residents say is causing environmental damage.
The state’s chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but the move failed to stem rising anger over the clashes, which also left about 80 wounded.
M.K. Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party the DMK, said police were guilty of “atrocities.”
“Mass Murder of Innocent People,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Who ordered the police firing on protesters? Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted?“
A video of a police officer on top of a bus and pointing an assault rifle at crowds has fueled fresh anger.
Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths “a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism.”
“These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice,” he said.
Police said Tuesday that 12 people had died but later revised the toll in the port city of Tuticorin.
P. Mahendran, superintendent of Tuticorin district police, said 18 officers were also wounded in the clashes.
“The situation is tense but under control today,” he said. “The post mortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today.”
The plant, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital Chennai, is currently closed as Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper subsidiary seeks a new license so it can be expanded.
The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator’s office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant.
Police said efforts to disperse the crowd of several thousand with a baton charge and tear gas volleys failed before authorities used live ammunition.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered the judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police.
“The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence,” he said.
The families of each victim would be offered one million rupees ($14,700) compensation, he added.
The deaths came on the 100th day of demonstrations against the plant, which environmentalists and residents claim is contaminating water sources — a charge the company denies.
The protests intensified after Vedanta, owned by an Indian billionaire but with its head office in London, sought to double the 400,000-ton annual capacity of the plant.
It was shut briefly after an alleged gas leak in March 2013 that left hundreds with breathing difficulties, nausea and throat infections.
The company maintains that it adheres to environmental standards and said it was the victim of “false propaganda” about its operations.
Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most industrialized and prosperous states and similar protests over environmental concerns have turned deadly in the past.
Tuticorin witnessed violent demonstrations in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighboring Kudankulam district that left one person dead.