A 6,000 MW nuclear power plant may be set up in Orissa. Slated to be the largest in the country, its capacity would be much higher than the total production of all the nuclear power plants in India today at 4120 MW.
Orissa Energy Minister Suryanarayan Patro told Hindustan Times on Sunday that the state government was examining a proposal of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd to set up a 4,000 MW to 6,000 MW nuclear power plant in Orissa.
"The NPCIL made their initial selection of the site based on satellite images," he said.
Thereafter a nine member site selection committee of NPCIL had visited Bhadrak and Ganjam districts for site selection and had finally selected Pati Sonapur in Chikiti Block of Ganjam district, he said. They have asked the Orissa Hydro Power Corporation to drill six deep bore wells as part of their investigations, he added.
Mr Patro said "Orissa government is as yet examining the issue and no permission has been given to NPCIL to go ahead with their proposal."
"There are variety of issues involved like number of villages to be evacuated as it is a thickly populated area, and also possible health hazards."
Executive Director Planning Nuclear Power Corporation of Indian Ltd, S Thakur told Hindustan Times, "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 would be of the order of 6,000 MW to 8,000 MW."
He said till date the NPCIL was not setting up power plants in the eastern part of the country because having rich coal reserves the nuclear option was not economical for a power plant to be set in the eastern part compared to coal.
The national uranium ore quality was poor compared to the international uranium. So, if international uranium was available, it would be economical to set nuclear power plants even in the eastern sector, he added.
Out of the four sites selected till now by NPCIL three were in the states of West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
He said "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."
Even though it would all depend on international co-operation to take place successfully but as site availability, selection and evaluation took a long time, NPCIL was undertaking the exercise to be well prepared, he added. Four coastal states - Gujarat, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh had responded positively to our suggestion for setting up nuclear power plants and our team has visited them for site selection of a potential power plant. The site selection is almost complete though investigations are going on, he added.
"The coastal sites help us because a lot of equipment for setting up the power plant comes by the sea route and the nuclear power plant requires large amounts of water for cooling."
In Orissa we have selected Pati Sonapur in Ganjam district which is very close to the sea and are doing investigations to see if it is suitable.
The site has to have 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, deep bore wells have to be dug to study the rock foundation, geology of the place besides its proneness to earthquake is also taken into account, he said.