The state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India will on Thursday begin developing the site in Ratnagiri district on which it plans to set up a 10,000-MW nuclear power plant.
The project still needs a clearance from the ministry of environment and forests after a mandatory public hearing, but the corporation will already start building schools and hospitals for locals, constructing houses and offices for its employees, a water supply network, etc, on the 938-hectare site, which is spread over five villages. Of this, 700 hectares will house the reactors.
“India needs four-and-a-half times the power generation capacity it now has,” said S.K. Jain, chairman and managing director of the Corporation, on Wednesday at a Indo-French nuclear business meet. “We need all energy resources to play a role but nuclear power will accelerate the addition of capacity.”
The plant in the district’s Jaitapur taluka along the Konkan coast will consist of six light-water nuclear reactors of 1,650 MW each, imported from France’s Areva, one of the world’s biggest makers of atomic reactors. It is to be installed in phases over the next 15 years.
France’s parliament is yet to ratify the agreement. But the French ambassador Jerome Bonnafont, who was present at the meet, said it would be done by the year-end. “We are not waiting until the agreement is ratified,” said Jain. “Meanwhile, we will finalise the plant’s technical specifications within a month. We are discussing the project management aspect and business model.”
As part of the deal, Areva is to supply the fuel, uranium, to the plant during its 60-year life, while India will look at taking stakes in some of the French company’s mines. The Ratnagiri project is the outcome of the country’s first foreign civil nuclear agreement after India’s more than three-decade nuclear isolation ended about a year ago. The country subsequently also signed similar deals with US companies.
India signed the deal soon after the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group lifted restrictions on other countries nuclear goods and services to India, in September 2008, even though it has not signed the non-proliferation treaty. Maharashtra will be the first state to get imported nuclear reactors.
In August, the Bombay High Court dismissed a public interest litigation alleging that the power plant posed a risk to the ecology. The state government has already acquired this land, which is 24 metres above sea level and 80 per cent of which is surrounded by water.