The cabinet on Wenesday approved the proposal for 10 indigenously built Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) for nuclear power generation.
Based on latest technology that uses heavy water as its coolant and neutron moderator in a nuclear reactor, these will create additional capacity of 7000 MW.
“A total of 7000 MW capacity will be added. It will help produce clean energy,” power minister Piyush Goyal said after the cabinet decision was taken.
This is the largest ever approval granted for nuclear reactors in India, and further carries stamp of the government’s commitment towards a shift to clean energy. Building 10 reactors will also boost the nuclear power sector whose contribution to India’s energy mix is a mere 3.5% from an installed capacity of 6780 MW from 22 reactors.
“A vital decision of the Cabinet that pertains to transformation of the domestic nuclear industry,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after the cabinet meeting.
The 10 reactors will be built at Mahi Banswara (Rajasthan), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh), Kaiga (Karnataka) and Gorakhpur (Haryana).
A government press statement said the this project will create business worth Rs 70,000 crore and “generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. With manufacturing orders to domestic industry, it will be a major step towards strengthening India’s credentials as a major nuclear manufacturing powerhouse”.
While anti-nuclear energy activists continue to oppose the government’s focus on the sector, experts point to the long-term benefits of the decision to build 10 reactors in India.
“This is going to provide a big fillip to the Make in India programme and also reduce India’s dependance on exports for nuclear fuel and reactors,” said Somesh Kumar, leader-power and utilities practice, EY India.
India imports uranium, the fuelling for firing a nuclear plant and also is entirely dependant on foreign companies for providing reactors. Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors use unenriched uranium, that is available in India, as its fuel.
(With inputs from PTI)