NEW DELHI: Westinghouse Electric will relocate a planned project to build six nuclear reactors in India, said officials, bringing the first deal stemming from a US-India civil nuclear accord struck over a decade ago closer to reality.
The six AP-1000 reactors would be built in Andhra Pradesh, after the original site proposed for the multi-billion-dollar project, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, faced local opposition.
The breakthrough comes ahead of a June 7-8 visit by Modi to Washington, where he will be hosted by President Barack Obama for a final summit before the US presidential election in November, and will address both houses of Congress.
US lawmakers ratified the civil nuclear accord three years after it was struck in 2005, as part of an attempt to deepen the strategic relationship with India, but have expressed growing dismay over its failure to yield follow-on deals for US-based reactor makers like Westinghouse.
One obstacle was bringing India’s liability rules into line with inter national nor ms, which require the costs of an accident to be channelled to the operator rather than the maker of a nuclear power station.
Following the announcement of a “breakthrough understanding” on nuclear cooperation during Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015, this issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the US government and it is down to commercial partners to agree a deal.
Indian central and state officials confirmed that NPCIL, which would operate the plants, had made a down payment on 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of land in the eastern coastal district of Srikakulam.
“The land acquisition was stuck for over a decade, but now it’s coming to a conclusion,” Ajay Jain, energy secretary of Andhra Pradesh, told Reuters, adding the purchase would close this year. “Construction can begin in 2017.”