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Indo-French nuclear power deal : Little success a decade later

Indo-French nuclear power deal : Little success a decade later
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A decade after its signing, the IndoFrench nuclear deal has yielded little success in the power sector, but the pact has given India a headway in...

New Delhi: A decade after its signing, the Indo-French nuclear deal has yielded little success in the power sector, but the pact has given India a headway in other areas like research, former top officials said.

The Indo-French cooperation on 'peaceful use of nuclear energy' was signed on September 30, 2008, primarily for building the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP).

The 9,900 MW power plant that envisages to have six nuclear reactors of 1,650 MW each is slated to be the biggest nuclear power park in the country. However, 10 years after signing the deal, the power project is still at negotiations.

The deal was signed even before the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement was signed, the officials said. The multi-billion project had met with a fierce opposition from the locals.

In April 2011, one person was killed in police firing as protests against the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant turned violent with agitators setting ablaze a police station.

However, of the recent nuclear power sites earmarked for foreign reactors, except the Kudankulam nuclear power project, Jaitapur remains the only location that has seen completion of the land acquisition.

The plant also has necessary approvals from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), said Sekhar Basu, the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of the Atomic Energy, who superannuated this month.

"However, it has taken a longer time than expected," said R K Sinha, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, DAE.

The negotiations first began with French company Areva, but in 2017 French utility company EDF took over its nuclear reactor business after the former faced financial issues.

So, the negotiations were redone, said Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of the AEC and DAE secretary at the time the Indo-French nuclear deal was signed.

After the EDF took over Areva, negotiations again restarted. Basu said there have been several factors that were hindering the power plant, which includes the "reference plant".

A reference plant is a functional power reactor and the Areva had then cited a power reactor at Flamanville.

"That will only happen by 2020," Basu said. Since Areva, and now EDF, was bringing in a new technology, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the country nuclear watchdog, asked for a reference plant.

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