Home > In the Media > If deal through, first foreign n-reactor’s address: Jaitapur, Maharashtra

If deal through, first foreign n-reactor’s address: Jaitapur, Maharashtra

September 23, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Pranab Dhal Samanta in Indian Express

September 23, 2007

Despite the political uncertainty over the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Government has given its go-ahead to plans for preparing Jaitapur in Maharashtra as the first new site available to set up reactors with foreign collaboration once the deal is operationalised. A shortlist of four more sites — two of which would be open for imported reactors — has also been submitted for government approval.

It’s learnt that clearances are in place to set up four light water reactors in Jaitapur, in batches of two each. Two more 1,000-MW reactors will also be set up in Kudankulam, but this project will remain with Russia, which has an agreement to supply additional reactors and is already constructing two of them in the same location.

In effect, sources said, Jaitapur will be the first site available for setting up civilian power reactors with foreign help once the deal goes through. DAE Chief Anil Kakodkar had underlined India’s preparedness to open up its civilian sector for foreign reactors when he told the IAEA General Conference last week that sites are being identified and prepared for this purpose

“With a view to significantly augment nuclear power generation capacity in the near-term through imports, as an additionality to the ongoing indigenous programme, a Site Selection Committee has evaluated coastal sites in the country for the reactors to be set up in a convoy mode,” said Kakodkar.

Two more coastal sites have been surveyed and proposed in Gujarat and West Bengal. Other sites for the indigenous programme have been tentatively identified in Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. While approval for these sites is yet to come, said sources, Jaitapur is the first new site for which an in-principle clearance was given two years ago. Last month, the Government approved the detailed project plans prepared by NPCIL. The idea is to set up four 1000-MW light water reactors there.

It may, however, be noted that Jaitapur was identified even before the nuclear deal was worked out between India and the US. At that point, sources said, indications were that France may be keen to work with India despite the strict regime of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. It was always going to be an uphill diplomatic task until the nuclear deal changed the scenario.

With India now looking to get a waiver from the NSG on the basis of its commitments in the 123 Agreement with US, Jaitapur’s future is in many ways linked to that of the deal. However, official sources said, the site can always be used as part of the indigenous programme as a fallback option.

That India is gaining recognition as a potential major player in the nuclear sector after the n-deal is underlined by the fact that India will assume the presidency of the prestigious World Association of Nuclear Operators for the first time this week.

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