Indian nuclear sector does not expect budget bounty, unlike last year

Chennai, Jan 29 (IANS) After getting a firm commitment of Rs 3,000 crore allocation over the next two decades for atomic power projects in the last Union Budget, the nuclear power sector is not expecting anything new in the upcoming 2017-18 budget, said the Atomic Energy Commission chief.

“Unlike other industries, we do not have any new expectations from the Union Budget. Yes, it is true last year Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced annual additional allocation of Rs 3,000 crore to expand nuclear power capacity,” Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Sekhar Basu, who is also the Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), told IANS.

“Our focus now is on setting up 10 more 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR). The PHWRs are our own technology. Apart from expanding the power generation capacity, this would give steady stream of orders for the domestic industry involved in the nuclear field,” Basu said.

Presenting the Budget for 2016-17, Jaitley said: “In the power sector, we need to diversify the sources of power generation for long-term stability. Government is drawing up a comprehensive plan, spanning next 15 to 20 years, to augment the investment in nuclear power generation.”

Echoing Basu was S.K. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. He told IANS: “When a project is designed, the funding part is finalised after discussions with the government.”

Sharma said new sites to house reactors — indigenous as well as foreign — are being explored.

In response to a question raised in Parliament, the government has said it has accorded in-principle approval to set up 14 units of 700 MW in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Basu said after six 1,000 MW units from Russia, India will source VVER 1,200 MW reactors from that country.

He said various locations for housing the next batch of six Russian reactors are being looked at.

“It has to be a coastal site,” Basu said, adding Andhra Pradesh could also be considered as a potential site.

According to the Russian nuclear power company Rosatom, it is building two such VVER reactors at Belarus.

The VVER reactors are Russian Vodo-Vodyanoi Energetichesky Reaktors, translated in English as Water-Water Energetic Reactors.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

–IANS

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