Govt plans to set up 'Atomic Parks'

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: In the wake of the recent U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, the Center is thinking of setting up ‘Atomic Parks’ to augment nuclear power generation capacity at a fast pace.

Though the proposal is still at a preliminary stage, is aimed at setting up a large number of nuclear power units at each site to achieve the twin prong strategy of enhancing the potential for new capacity addition and also streamlining the process of possible International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of the civilian nuclear sites in the future, as envisaged under the nuclear deal.

According to the Government sources, the Prime Minister's Office has initiated groundwork on the proposal and utilities such as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) — the sole nuclear power producer — have been sounded out on the plans to have such designated sites for harnessing nuclear generation in the country.

At present the country has about 22 nuclear stations in various locations of which 14 have been designated for civilian use under the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. With the possible entry of new players into nuclear power generation, including private sector companies, the ‘Atomic Parks’ concept is expected to gain currency, Government officials said.

According to NPCIL estimates, India could add between 20,000 and 40,000 MW of nuclear power generation capacity over the next 10 years or so if several more players, including private sector companies, enter the sector.

Though the success of the civilian nuclear program hinges largely on the Indo-U.S. deal, for the agreement to work, the U.S. Congress must change a law that bars selling nuclear material to countries such as India, which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Indo-US nuclear deal, if ratified by the Congress, is expected to open up the international nuclear fuel supply market for Indian nuclear power players, greatly enhancing the nuclear capacity building process in the country.

The benefits from the deal with the U.S, in terms of imports and nuclear technology, are expected to start trickling over the next 18 months or so, according to industry experts.

India's power generation capacity, currently pegged at 3,310 MW, forms less than 3 percent of the country's total installed generation capacity of about 1,20,000 MW.

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