New Delhi. The Union Cabinet decided to give a major boost to its flagship ‘Make in India’ programme by approving a proposal to build 10 atomic power reactors, using indigenous technology. The Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) designed and made in India, will have indigenous, latest state-of-the-art technology, a cabinet note stated.
When completed, the 10 reactors, each capable of generating 700 MW of electricity, will provide a much needed fillip to both the domestic nuclear industry and the power sector. It is also in line with the government’s commitment to raise the percentage of renewable in the country’s energy mix and help maintain its commitment to preserve the environment, made at the UN FCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the decision would ‘transform’ the domestic nuclear industry.
“A vital decision of the Cabinet that pertains to transformation of the domestic nuclear industry,” Modi tweeted.
The cabinet decision on May 17, seeking to ramp up India’s domestic nuclear power production with 10 new reactors, is the largest ever approval granted for such facilities in one go.
“A total of 7000 MW capacity will be added. It will help produce clean energy,” Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said.
“In lieu of the NDA’s completion of three years, the development of the power sector along with initiatives like Make in India will help in providing domestic manufacturing orders to domestic manufacturers to the extent of INR 70,000 crores,” he said.
“The Cabinet’s decision reflects the government’s commitment to prioritise the use of clean power in India’s energy mix as part of low-carbon growth strategy and to ensure long-term base load requirement for the nation’s industrialisation.
“It also supports India’s commitment to sustainable development, energy self-sufficiency, and bolsters global efforts to combat climate change,” Goyal said.
India currently has an installed nuclear power capacity of 6780 MW from 22 operational plants. An additional 6700 MW of nuclear power is scheduled to be added by 2021-22 when several projects currently being constructed go on-stream in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.
The total share of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix is around 3.5 per cent.
The 10 reactors approved by the Union Cabinet Wednesday would be built at Mahi Banswara (Rajasthan), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh), Kaiga (Karnataka) and Gorakhpur (Haryana).
“As the government marks three years of its nation and people-centric governance, in a first of its kind project for India’s nuclear power sector, the 10 new units will come up in fleet mode as a fully home-grown initiative. It would be one of the flagship ‘Make in India’ projects in this sector,” a government statement said.
The project will help transform India’s nuclear industry and, along with power, generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. It is also likely to generate manufacturing orders of close to INR 70,000 crore to domestic companies involved in constructing the units.
Major companies like Larsen&Toubro welcomed the “bold and historic” decision and said it would provide a major boost to the domestic manufacturing sector.
However, anti-nuclear groups opposed the decision, saying nuclear power was unsafe and expensive.
A recent report stated that India uses a higher percentage of renewable energy than the United States.
“India has over 6,780 mega watts of power units, which is expected to double in the coming months. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, we are looking to make India self-reliant in terms of power requirement, along with providing carbon-free sources of power, thus improving India’s position globally,” Goyal said.