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Nuke waste disposal: 9-year-delay unacceptable, says CAG
March 29, 2006 15:51 IST
A 9-year-delay in installing a sophisticated nuclear waste disposal system at India's premier nuclear research centre, which resulted in cost overruns, is simply unacceptable, the auditor of the government's accounts has said.
In its latest report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India observed that although the Department of Atomic Energy placed orders to buy equipment for nuclear waste disposal by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre between 1991-1996 at a cost of Rs 38 lakh, it could not commission the system as it did not get a few items.
Moreover, the remaining items were bought at a much higher price than the original estimate, CAG said, adding "the objective of introducing efficient ways of low-level nuclear waste management by minimum disposal cost had not been achieved even after nine years and expenditure of Rs 52.78 lakh."
Giving details, CAG said the DAE had placed orders with different firms for incinerator system, hepa filters, heat exchangers, bag houses and draft cooling towers along with supporting items between May 1991 and December 1996 at a total cost of Rs 38.25 lakh.
The incinerator system was required by BARC for installation at 'Away From Reactor' storage facility for improving the management of low level radioactive waste and minimising disposal cost.
BARC recieved all items, except heat exchanger and bag houses valued at Rs 8.75 lakh, between May 1993 and July 1997. As a result, BARC could not commission the system. It stored some items at a storage facility and others in open yard.
The CAG noted that the Centre bought the two items from another supplier in March 1999 at a cost of Rs 23.28 lakh, nearly three times the original price, and installed some major equipment in 2007.
Meanwhile, BARC also set up a task force in June 2002 to review the status of the job and to expedite commissioning of the system. CAG observed that though the task force was to submit its report within two months, it took over three years and submitted the report in July 2005 suggesting some modifications.
However, the equipment valued at Rs 52.78 lakh procured between 1993 and 1999, with warranty already expired, were yet to be commissioned and put to intended use.
The system was expected to be commissioned by March 2007 but the delay led to disposal of radioactive waste by the existing method without volume reduction and requiring costly trench, CAG said.
Dismissing DAE's reply that most of the items were working satisfactorily, CAG said the department should have analysed all the aspects before ordering for the equipment.The reply that the delay had not affected the existing programmes was also not acceptable as BARC had to dispose off the low level nuclear waste by using the existing method, CAG added.