The Orissa government is examining a proposal from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to set up a 4,000 to 6,000-megawatt capacity nuclear power plant, which could be the largest in the country, which today has a total nuclear power generation capacity of only 4,120 MW.
The project is being proposed in the wake of the US government's offer of technology under the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with India.
“The NPCIL made their initial selection of the site based on satellite images,” Orissa Energy Minister Suryanarayan Patro told Hindustan Times on Monday.
A nine-member committee of NPCIL had visited Bhadrak and Ganjam districts for site selection and had finally selected Pati Sonapur in Chikiti Block of Ganjam,he said "They have asked the Orissa Hydro Power Corporation to drill six deep borewells as part of their investigations," he said.
“Orissa government is as yet examining the issue and no permission has been given to NPCIL to go ahead with their proposal," he said.
“There are variety of issues involved like number of villages to be evacuated as it is a thickly populated area, as also possible health hazards.”
“In anticipation of India being able to get international cooperation and access to nuclear technology, we are thinking of setting up large capacity nuclear power plants in coastal locations which be of the order of 6,000 MW to 8,000 MW," said S Thakur, executive directorl, planning, at NPCIL.
Thakur said the eastern region had rich coal reserves, which had so far made nuclear plants in the region not worth the effort, but prospects of importing good qulaity uranium from overseas had brightened chances.
Out of the four sites selected by NPCIL three are in the states of West Bengal,Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
"The investment required for the 6,000 MW to 8,000 MW nuclear power plants would be to the tune of Rs 6 to Rs 7 crore per MW, but I am sure money will not be a constraint," Thakur said.
Gujarat had also responded positively to NPCIL's plans, he said.
“The coastal sites help us because a lot of equipment for setting up the power plant comes by the sea route and nuclear power plants require large amounts of water for cooling," Thakur said.
He said the site has to have a low level of habitation. "We would require about 1,000 hectares from the state government. We have to study the land use pattern, the suitability of the soil for heavy structure, and deep borewells have to be dug to study the rock foundation and geology of the place," he said.