NEW DELHI: Four days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington on June 7, the site for an American company to set up a 6,600 MW nuclear power plant in India will be handed over to the Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited (NPCIL). The government of Andhra Pradesh will formally hand over the site at Kowada in Srikakulam district to the NPCIL for Westing house-Toshiba to build the plant.
The decision to allow Westinghouse, in which Toshiba has a majority stake, has been approved by the prime minister, and is the first nuclear power plant to be commissioned after the 2008 India-US civil nuclear agreement.
Kowada was earlier selected for a proposed reactor project by GE-Hitachi but the contractor had issues, though the land was acquired for the purpose.
The Chandrababu Naidu government, a BJP ally, had informed the Centre about the availability of the site some months ago. The unresolved issues with GE-Hitachi’ s reactor project were mentioned too.
As land acquisition for the Westinghouse contract at MithiVirdi in Gujarat got stuck, it was decided that the project should be shifted to Kowada where land is already available. Westinghouse, which submitted its detailed project costs this February, got the Kowada site to match the most ready site with the most ready vendor.
The project will enhance India’s nuclear power capacity substantially over the next decade, with the addition of new reactors at Kudankulam in coastal Tamil Nadu. The Kowada plant will be partly financed by the US Exim Bank and the paperwork is expected to be completed by next month after discussions during Modi’s visit.
The PM is expected to reach the US on June 6 and meet important American business chiefs the next evening, followed by a working dinner with President Obama. He will address a joint session of the US Congress the next day.