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Protests, delays reason for low nuclear power generation

November 25, 2011 20:46 IST

India's target of nuclear power generation of 20,000 megawatt by 2020 has been quietly lowered by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the only government agency setting up the nuclear power plants in the country, to 11,080 MW.

Attributing the slip in target to public protests and delays in building new reactors, the corporation officials say an internal review initiated by a French supplier after the Fukushima mishap in Japan has also contributed to the delay.

The corporation had earlier claimed, as late as in July that the country's installed nuclear capacity would go up from the present 4780 MW to 10,080 by 2017 and 20,000 MW by 2020. 

The new target, which may be made public soon, is 11,080 MW by 2019-20 and further to 14,580 MW by end of 2021. However, it will still be far off from the original target of 20,000 MW the government had been projecting over the years.

The revised nuclear growth trajectory was hinted at a conference on power in New Delhi by former NPCIL chief M R Srinivasan, who is now a member of the country's atomic energy commission. Officials in the atomic energy department, however, deny any scale-down of the target since it is still not official.

NPCIL officials say the targets are bound to be missed when public protests halt all work. They cite the case of the Jaitapur nuclear power park in Maharashtra with the French reactors that is not able to take off and the stoppage of the 1000 MW Russian reactors in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

On NPCIL's scanner is the construction of eight indigenous 700 MW nuclear reactors and import of eight reactors of 1000 MW or even higher capacity between 2012 and 2017 to raise the capacity to 10,080 MW by 2016. However, they find the government not moving fast enough in clearing import hurdles from foreign suppliers.

"We will be able to raise it to 11,080 MW only in 2019-20 by installing yet another Russian reactor in Kudankulam and achieve 14,580 MW by 2021-22 by operationalising two French 1650-MW reactors in Jaitapur," Srinivasan said.

A Correspondent in New Delhi