The Soviet Union has informally agreed to supply substantial quantities of heavy water to India for its atomic establishments. This has emerged from the Indo-Soviet talks that concluded in Moscow yesterday. The Soviet Union will also step up supplies of crude oil to India, it is learnt. Available information suggests that India had asked for as much as 205 tonnes of heavy water for its nuclear programme. The Soviet Union is reported to have said that details of heavy water supplies to India can be worked out in the near future. At the talks India also explored the possibility of Soviet crude supplies of about 2.5 million tonnes to 3 million tonnes.
The deputy prime minister and finance minister, Charan Singh, is strongly opposed to the demand of railwaymen for bonus and has conveyed his views to Prime Minister Morarji Desai. In a long letter addressed to Prime Minister Desai on May 30, the deputy prime minister pointed out that the payment of bonus to railwaymen would lead to similar demands by other departmental employees and involve an additional burden of Rs 600 crore annually. With a deficit budget of Rs 1,375 crore for 1979-80, it would hardly be possible to think of this order of expenditure, which would in no way be productive.
Silent Valley Project
Ecologists and others who have launched a mini-campaign against the Silent Valley hydro-electric project in Kerala are in for frustration. Prime Minister Morarji Desai has taken a firm stand that the project cannot be stalled. Some time ago, he had given a go-ahead to the Kerala government. Desai has made the Centre’s stand abundantly clear in a letter to the Janata Party President, Chandra Shekhar, who had drawn the PM’s attention to the opposition from ecologists and a section of the press to the clearance of the project. Fears had been expressed that the project will denude the rain forest and endanger the rare flora and fauna of the area.