Fifty years ago | January 21, 1970 Archives

From the Archives (January 21, 1970): Three nuclear power projects

The dedication of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station by the Prime Minister has been heralded as opening a new era of nuclear power technology in India. Tarapur is, of course, a turnkey project supplied by the United States which has helped to fill the power gap in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Nuclear power is more expensive than hydropower but less costly than thermal power in areas remote from the coalfields. The Tarapur station could be expanded to produce 1,000 megawatts in course of time. But this station was not originally part of the nuclear programme which was planned on the basis of reactors using locally produced uranium and heavy water on the model of the Canada-India experimental reactor at Trombay. The first station of this kind is being erected at Ranapratapsagar in Rajasthan. It follows the design of the giant Douglas Point Nuclear Generating Station in Canada. Though the capital cost of this type of station is higher than that of the Tarapur reactor, it has the advantage that it can be based on locally-mined uranium. A large heavy water plant is being set up alongside the station. Half of the fuel for the first reactor is to be produced at the Hyderabad Nuclear Fuel Complex and the other half supplied by the Canadians. There has been a similar sharing of effort in regard to many of the basic components of the reactor. While the designs have been supplied by Canada, the main reactor vessel and the steam generator are being fabricated here. The big transformers, circuit breakers and cranes have also been manufactured in India. Stainless steel has been procured from Durgapur and the pre-stressed concrete dome to house the reactor is also being fabricated. Of the complex instrumentation, a part is being supplied by Canada and a part by the Atomic Energy Department of India. While the second reactor at Rajasthan will incorporate a greater amount of indigenous components, it is only when the Kalpakkam unit is built near Madras in 1974 that the use of local materials will reach as high as 80 per cent of the whole. In so novel a field as nuclear technology, it is obviously wise to proceed by stages so as to avoid waste and inefficiency.

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