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Cabinet gives nod for 10 indigenous nuclear reactors

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the proposal to construct 10 indigenous pressurised heavy water nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 7,000 MWe.

Briefing the media on the Cabinet decisions, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said each of the reactors would have a capacity of 700 MWe. “We already have 6,780 MWe of operational nuclear power plants and about 6,700 MWe of plants under implementation, which will be set up by 2021-22.”

The decision comes against the backdrop of recent troubles for India’s international collaborations in nuclear projects. While the U.S. deal, involving Toshiba Westinghouse for six reactors in Andhra Pradesh, is floundering after Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the deal with French company Areva for reactors in Jaitapur remain mired in negotiations over costing.

No timeline

While the Minister said these 10 plants would create Rs. 70,000 crore worth of business for domestic manufacturers and generate about 33,400 jobs, he did not provide a timeline for their completion, saying the government would update the details when they are clear.

“The approval also shows our strong belief in the capability of India’s scientific community to build our technological capacities,” an official statement said.

Rapid advances by India

“The design and development of this project is a testament to the rapid advances achieved by India’s nuclear scientific community and industry. It underscores the mastery our nuclear scientists have attained over all aspects of indigenous PHWR technology,” it added.

India generated 37,674 million units of nuclear energy in 2016-17, according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, at a capacity factor of 80%. The two major projects under construction at the moment are located in Rajasthan and Gujarat, of 1,400 MWe each. Both plants, comprising two units of 700 MWe each, are under review.

“The 10 reactors will be part of India’s latest design of 700 MWe PHWR fleet with state-of-the-art technology meeting the highest standards of safety,” it added.

The Cabinet also approved a coal linkage policy, called the Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India (Shakti), that will award fuel supply agreements to coal plants already holding letters of assurance (LoAs). Thermal plants holding LoAs will be eligible to sign fuel supply pacts under the new policy after ensuring that all the conditions are met.

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