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India’s nuclear power deal with US in trouble after Westinghouse files bankruptcy

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New Delhi, March 29, 2017: In a major setback for India’s landmark deal with the US and even for Trump’s administration, which helped drive the development of nuclear energy, Westinghouse Electric, US nuclear unit of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, has filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday with $9.8 billion in liabilities.

The filing comes as the company’s corporate parent, Toshiba of Japan, struggles to stanch huge losses arising from Westinghouse’s distraught nuclear construction projects in the American South.

However, more than two years ago, PM Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama set the parameters to implement a historic nuclear cooperation deal signed between India and the US. Both countries agreed to work on “finalizing contractual arrangements by June 2017” for six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh which were to be built by Westinghouse and the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

What the PM and President Obama laid out ended the uncertainty over two important aspects – inspections and liability for a nuclear accident. India agreed to tighter checks by the International Atomic Energy Agency and in return, the US dropped its insistence on tracking fuel consignments.

On liability in case of an accident at a nuclear power plant, India, seared by the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, made it clear that a plant operator will be responsible for costs and compensation, but will have secondary recourse against a supplier or equipment provider.

A state-backed insurance pool to cover liability up to Rs. 1,500 crore would be created by India. Any recourse sought by the operator against a supplier could not exceed this figure.

The India-US deal was meant to generate nuclear commerce worth billions of dollars while allowing Delhi access to nuclear technology and fuel without giving up its weapons programme. India wants to triple its nuclear capacity by 2024 to wean Asia’s third-largest economy off polluting fossil fuels like coal.

The Westinghouse-built operators in Andhra Pradesh formed a multi-billion dollar deal and would be operated by NPCIL.They were to be located over 2,000 acres in in the eastern coastal district of Srikakulam.

Wefornews Bureau

Disaster

Cyclone Nivar to weaken further into cyclonic storm before noon today

Puducherry recorded rainfall measuring 237mm between 8.30am Wednesday and 2.30am Thursday. During the same time, Cuddalore recorded 246mm and Chennai 83mm.

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Bhubaneswar Cyclone Fani

Cyclone Nivar crossed the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast around the union territory as a severe cyclonic storm between 11.30pm Wednesday and 2.3 am Thursday with a wind speed of 120-130kmph, the India Meterological Department (IMD) said.

Nivar’s intensity has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 110-120kmph. It will further weaken into a cyclonic storm before noon Thursday, according to the weather office.

Also Read: Cyclone Nivar makes landfall, rain hits Tamil Nadu

Puducherry recorded rainfall measuring 237mm between 8.30am Wednesday and 2.30am Thursday. During the same time, Cuddalore recorded 246mm and Chennai 83mm.

The Tamil Nadu disaster management authority sounded a flood warning along the Arani river in Tiruvallur district.

The Greater Chennai Corporation said that civic workers were working to clear several uprooted trees and electric poles and inundated localities in the city as well as coastal and delta districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Officials are awaiting reports on the extent of damage from districts.

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Disaster

Cyclone Nivar crosses Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, felling trees, disrupting power supply

IMD said, “Under its influence rainfall at most/many places with heavy to very heavy fall at a few places with isolated extremely heavy falls are likely to occur over Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu and Chittoor, Kurnool, Prakasam and Cuddappa districts of Andhra Pradesh.

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Nivar Cyclone Chennai Rain

Chennai/Puducherry: The very severe cyclonic storm Nivar, crossed the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast late night and early Thursday morning with an estimated wind speed of 120-130 kmph, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

On its way the cyclone uprooted several trees and power lines in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore, Marakkanam and in Puducherry.

Power supply in several areas was disrupted. The concerned administration was removing the fallen trees.

In Puducherry also the power supply was disrupted.

Puducherry Chief Minister V.Narayanasamy told a news channel that power supply will be restored in a phased manner on Thursday itself.

He said, a lot of trees have fallen due to the cyclone and rain in continuing.

Narayanasamy said low lying areas were inundated and work was on to drain the water. Fallen trees were being removed. “Power supply was disrupted and it will be soon restored in a phased manner in 12 hours”, he said.

As regards the cyclone damage to lives and property, Narayanasamy said the assessment will be made and by this afternoon, an estimate of damage will be known.

He said 80 relief camps have been set up in Puducherry. Camps have also been set up in Karaikal.

Narayanasamy said, “By Gods grace people of Puducherry escaped the fury of Nivar.”

He also inspected the cyclone damaged areas and urged the people to stay indoors and fishermen not to venture into the seas.

In Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district, police said the fallen trees have been removed to ease the flow of traffic.

Similarly, the officials of power utility were also on the job to restore power supply wherever it got disrupted due to the cyclone.

At Marakkanam near Puducherry, several power poles fell down and the fishermen community requested the Tamil Nadu government to restore the power lines at the earliest.

According to the weather department the cyclone lays centered over coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry about 25km north of Puducherry with wind blowing at a speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph.

In the suburbs of Tamil Nadu capital Chennai, water got logged due to rains affecting the residents as well as traffic flow.

Nivar will move northwest wards and weaken further into a cyclonic storm during the next three hours, the IMD said.

The cyclone began its landfall on Wednesday night about 10.30 p.m. after moving at a speed of 16 kmph for six hours.

In an early morning tweet, Puducherry’s Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi said: “Good #MorningNutrition. Puducherry has faced the Cyclone, collectively and resolutely. Making us a stronger and a more experienced team.”

Even after landfall, the cyclone was likely to maintain its intensity for about six hours and weaken gradually.

The sea along the coast was very rough with huge waves were hitting the shores.

IMD said, “Under its influence rainfall at most/many places with heavy to very heavy fall at a few places with isolated extremely heavy falls are likely to occur over Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu and Chittoor, Kurnool, Prakasam and Cuddappa districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Gale wind speed reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph very likely to prevail over interior districts (Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, Vellore) of Tamil Nadu and Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh in the early morning to forenoon, the weather department said.

The Puducherry government too has announced Thursday as a public holiday.

Twenty five teams from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed on the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh.

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Bharat Bandh: Transport, banking services likely to be affected

As several transport, bank unions are part of the strike, banking services are likely to be hit across the country.

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Farmers Protest

Over 25 crore workers are expected to participate in a nationwide strike on Thursday jointly called by 10 central unions protesting against various policies of the government. As several transport, bank unions are part of the strike, banking services are likely to be hit across the country.

Fewer autos and taxis might be on road today. The Uttar Pradesh government, meanwhile, has extended the Essential Services Maintenance Act, banning strikes in all departments and corporations under it for a period of another six months.

Here’s all you need to know:

Who are participating in the strike?

The ten central unions include Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will not participate in the strike.

What are the demands?

Cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month to all non-income tax paying families and 10 kilograms free ration per person per month to all needy people.

Expansion of MGNREGA, the rural employment guarantee scheme, to provide 200 days’ work in a year in rural areas at enhanced wages and also extension of the employment guarantee to urban areas.

Withdrawal of all “anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes. The demands also include stopping privatisation of public sector.

Pension to all, scrapping National Pension System and the restoration of the earlier pension system are also some of the demands.

Which services will be affected?

A number of services, including industries, banking, transport, are likely to be affected as the trade unions taking part in one-day strike encompasses a large number of sectors. Farmers, Scheme workers, domestic workers, construction workers, beedi workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural workers, self-employed in rural and urban areas, auto and taxi drivers, railway, defence employees are also supposed to participate.

Will bank services be hit?

Yes as All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) are participating in the strike. Many lenders, including IDBI Bank and Bank of Maharashtra, in regulatory filings on Wednesday said their normal working could be affected at the branches and offices.

The “Lok Sabha in its recently held session has passed three new labour enactments by dismantling existing 27 enactments in the name of ‘Ease of Business’, which are purely in the interest of corporates.” In the process, 75 per cent of workers are being pushed out of the orbits of labour laws since they will have no legal protection under the new enactment,” the AIBEA said in a release. The association represents the majority of the banks, except State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Overseas Bank. It has four lakh bank employees from various public and old private sectors and a few foreign banks as its members.

“If strike materialises, the normal functioning of the bank branches and offices is likely to be affected. The bank is taking all necessary steps to minimise the impact of strike so as to provide the normal banking services to its customers,” the Bank of Maharashtra said in a filing.

(With agency inputs)

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