NEW DELHI -- Seeking to ramp up India's domestic nuclear power production, the Union cabinet today cleared a proposal to indigenously build 10 atomic reactors, the largest ever approval granted for such facilities in one go.
Once completed, the 10 reactors of 700 MW each will give much needed fillip to the domestic nuclear industry.
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," he tweeted.
The Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) will have indigenous but latest technology.
"A total of 7000 MW capacity will be added. It will help produce clean energy," Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal 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."
India currently has installed nuclear power capacity of 6780 MW from 22 operational plants.
Another 6700 MW of nuclear power is expected to be added by 2021-22 when currently under-construction projects go onstream in Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.
The total share of nuclear power in the country currently stands at a measly 3.5 per cent.
The 10 reactors 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 homegrown initiative. It would be one of the flagship Make in India projects in this sector," a government statement said.
With likely manufacturing orders of close to Rs 70,000 crore to the domestic companies, the project is expected to help transform Indian nuclear industry and generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment.
Welcoming the move, S N Roy, wholetime Director, Larsen & Toubro said the government has taken a "bold and historic" step by approving the construction of 10 units of indigenous PHWR.
"This decision, which envisages an investment of around Rs 1,05,000 crore, is another step forward in the Make in India initiative and will give a major boost to the Indian industry," Roy said.
However, anti-nuclear groups voiced their opposition to the decision.
Greenpeace India termed the move an "economic blunder" and another "futile" exercise to waste the taxpayer's money on "unsafe, obsolete and expensive" technology.
Arun Velaskar, convenor of All India People's Inititive Against Nuclear Power (AIPIANP), an anti-nuclear advocacy group, said while several countries like Germany are moving away from nuclear power, the Modi government's decision to sanction new plants is "deleterious".
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