India says no private sector in nuclear power industry

January 19th, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Hailing India as an “El Dorado” for nuclear business, the government Monday ruled out the participation of the private sector in the country’s burgeoning civil nuclear industry for at least five years.Announcing an ambitious plan to expand atomic power generation to 50,000 MW by 2040, the government also underlined that India would not only be an importer of nuclear equipment but could also be an exporter of fast-breeder and thorium-based reactors.

“The first phase of the expansion of nuclear power will be entirely in the public sector,” Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh said here at a meeting aimed at exploring nuclear business opportunities between India and Britain.

“Private business investment in nuclear business is not on our radar screen. There is no room for participation of private sector in this area now,” Ramesh said.

The decision to confine nuclear power generation to public sector, Ramesh explained, has been taken in view of environmental reasons and safety and strategic considerations.

From an environment point of view, the expansion of civil nuclear energy is necessary, he said, while adding that India would have to readjust its energy consumption with its voluntary obligations to cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

Ramesh, however, did not shut the door for private players in nuclear industry in the future, but made it clear it won’t be in the next five years. “Perhaps another five or six years down the road, we will talk to private companies,” he said.

With British Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Peter Mandelson at his side, Ramesh said India was the “great El Dorado of nuclear business” as everyone with nuclear expertise was making a beeline for it.

Stressing that it would be a two-way traffic in atomic trade, Ramesh said that India would be at the cutting-edge of technology with its expertise in fast-breeder reactors and advanced thorium reactors.

Mandelson is visiting India with a team of nearly 100 top business honchos, including top executives associated with the nuclear industry.

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) will formally approve the first joint venture between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Ramesh said.

This would be the first special vehicle agreement set up for the expansion of nuclear power, Ramesh said.

NPCIL will hold 51 percent stake in the joint venture and NTPC the balance.

The minister also unveiled an ambitious plan to expand nuclear power generation from 4,200 MW to 20,000 MW by 2020. It would be scaled up to 50,000 MW by 2050.

Out of 20,000 MW, indigenous heavy water reactors would contribute 10,000 MW and plutonium-based reactors will contribute 2,000 MW.

Around 8,000 MW would be generated through imported reactors. Discussions are going on between nuclear companies from the US, France and Russia, the three countries which have already signed nuclear pacts with India, and NPCIL, he said.

India is expected to sign a civil nuclear partnership agreement with Kazakhstan later this week, the minister said.

Related Stories

    Posted in Uncategorized |