M. Ramesh

Kalpakkam, Jan. 23

RUSSIAN companies are not only keen on supplying more nuclear power plants to India, but are also "confident" of being allowed to do so in course of time, Mr S. K. Jain, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, told newspersons here.

Russia, being a part of the `nuclear suppliers' group,' is constrained by international agreements to supply equipment and fuel for nuclear power plants. (The two 1,000-megawatt power plants that are being put up at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu with Russian technology are only a fulfilment of an agreement with India that predates Russia's international commitments.)

Now, the question is whether the next set of power plants would be supplied to India. The question assumes more importance now, because the US government is insisting on linking supplies of uranium to India putting the existing Fast Breeder Test Reactor and the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (under construction) under international safeguards, which means subjecting the plants to international monitoring.

India's stand has been that it would put all the power plants built with foreign technology or fuels under international safeguards, but not those indigenously built and operated with domestic fuel. Putting indigenous plants under the safeguards would, in effect, mean following the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which India considers discriminatory and unjust.

At the press conference, Mr Jain said that "at the company level," Russians are confident of further co-operation with India. They have even begun to do the groundwork for supplying to India in anticipation of clearances, he said.

Mr Jain said that India wants to be a significant player in the energy sector. He said that NPCIL wishes to eventually see the Kudankulam site develop into a 10,000-MW complex.

India has seven nuclear plants under construction right now for 3,420-MW capacity, including the two at Kudankulam. Mr Jain said that 540-MW Tarapore-3 unit would be operational in a month.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 24, 2006)
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