By Ilya Kharlamov
ndian police have deported German national Sonnteg Reiner Herman to Germany. He is suspected of financing protest campaigns against the launch of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant, which is being built in cooperation with Russia. Earlier the Indian authorities also withdrew licenses of several NGOs on suspicion of their involvement in the protest campaign against the construction of the NPP. Experts believe that the scandal surrounding the Koodankulam NPP and the delay of the launch of the plant are playing into the hands of Russia’s competitors.
India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh believes that non-governmental organizations financed by the US and the EU are behind the protests against the NPP construction. According to the Prime Minister, these organizations are ignoring the fact that there’s been an increase in India’s needs for electricity supply. The first unit of the NPP was expected to be launched in late 2011 but that was postponed for an indefinite period of time following the protests by locals. Leaders of the Peoples Movement against nuclear energy Udayakumar has even threatened the Prime Minister after the latter made a statement alleging foreign interference in the protest movement and urged him to resign if he fails to substantiate his accusations.
A government investigation has revealed that the NGOs financed the protest campaigns under the guise of money transfers for disabled people. The role of the deported German citizen, according to the police, was fund raising for this type of activities. Moreover, the opponents of the project recruited anti-government radicals who threatened to carry out terrorist attacks against the NPP.
According to head of the Centre for Oriental Studies at the Diplomatic Academy Andrei Volodin, the movement against the construction of the NPP is indeed indirectly supported by Western countries.
“The motivations of this movement are quite complicated. On the one hand fishermen and others engaged in agriculture and related industries are concerned about their future and the volumes of production, especially after the Fukushima disaster. On the other hand, the government of the Tamilnadu state has repeatedly explained to the protesters that the construction of the plant poses no threat to their health and businesses. At the same time we can see that representatives from the US, France and a number of other countries indirectly support this protest movement.”
Tatiana Shaumyan, the head of the India department of the Institute of Oriental Studies also agrees that the scandal around the NPP was stirred up by the activities of Russia’s competitors.
“The Indian market is huge. It is likely that the US which has signed a number of agreements with India on cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy as well as a numbere of European organizations oppose the construction of the NPP. Not directly but via the organizations which are operating on India’s territory. There is a serious competition between countries for the Indian nuclear market.”
Russia’s Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin has lent his support to India’s Prime Minister Manhoman Singh. He said that Russia also had suspicions of foreign interference with the construction of the NPP. Meanwhile India has a keen interest in developing its nuclear energy sector. In fact there is no alternative to this as a far as it is concerned. Coal driven electricity power plants are harmful for the environment. In order to address this problem Indian authorities have designed a program for the development of the nuclear energy sector up until 2030, which will cost an estimated $100 billion to implement.