The Jaitapur Project

The plan by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to establish two nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra was first publicly announced in September 2005, just two months after the United States-India nuclear cooperation deal was inked.[i] In 2003, two years before the deal was conceived, NPCIL had commissioned a feasibility study in the Jaitapur region.[ii]

The project, originally for two 1,000 MW reactors, was modified in February 2006, when India and France signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation and declared their intention to establish a “nuclear power park” in Jaitapur, consisting of six units of European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MW each.[iii]

Jaitapur is planned to be the biggest nuclear power station in the world, even larger than Japan’s Kashiwkazi-Kariwa plant. The reactors are to be designed and built by the largely state-owned French nuclear energy company, Areva. Ever since 2006, Areva has figured in connection with the proposed nuclear park in Jaitapur.

Even before the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group agreed in September 2008 to make a special exception for India in the global nuclear trade regime in keeping with the US-India deal, New Delhi had started dangling the carrot of lucrative nuclear reactor business worth $270 billion before the international nuclear industry in the form of “nuclear power parks” in coastal areas.[iv] This was done without any clearance from the Reserve Bank of India, without an engineering or technical assessment of the suppliers, and without a transparent, broad-based study of or planning for nuclear expansion on such a massive scale.

There was no evaluation of the relevance of the nuclear reactors for the country’s energy security. NPCIL did not invite global tenders for them. Yet, it short-listed Areva’s EPRs, along with Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000 series of reactors, General Electric-Hitachi’s ABWR reactor series, and Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom’s VVER 1,000 reactors.[v]

On its part, France has been more than eager to exploit the lucrative nuclear market emerging in India. Not only it had not condemned India for its nuclear tests of 1998[vi], it promised India access to sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies and offered assured fuel supplies.[vii]

In anticipation of the NSG clearance, pre-project activities started by mid-2006 and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between NPCIL and the Government of Maharashtra in September 2006.[viii] NPCIL’s camp office appeared near Madban village in early 2007.[ix] Within a month of the NSG clearance in September 2008, India and France entered into a framework nuclear agreement.[x] Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was invited as the chief guest at the French National Day in 2009.[xi]

The agreement for the first two of the six EPRs between Areva and NPCIL was signed in December 2010 during French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s India visit.[xii] This event was also marked by a hastily granted clearance for the project by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.[xiii]

Current status:

  • The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is yet to give clearance to the reactor design
  • Environmental clearance is conditional
  • In the first phase, two reactors are to be built between 2012 and 2018.
  • Union cabinet has to approve financial issues
  • A powerful movement against the project has emerged.
  • Seventy local self-government representatives of 10 villages have resigned en masse
  • Liability remains a concern for Areva[xiv]

 

Courtesy: CNDP Report on Jaitapur: http://www.cndpindia.org/download.php?view.66

Notes:

[i] Meena Menon, “Critical Mass”, Frontline, 27:12 :: Jun. 05-18, 2010   http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2712/stories/20100618271204100.htm

[ii] “French N-tech firms eyeing India”, Times of India, May 18, 2008,  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1536108.cms

[iii] “Advantage India: French Nuclear Deal”, Times of India, Feb 20, 2006, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Advantage-India-French-nuclear-deal-/articleshow/1421908.cms

[iv] Raman, J Sri, “The US-India Nuclear Deal: on year later”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1, 2009. http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/the-us-india-nuclear-deal-one-year-later

[v] “Nuclear Power short-lists 4 suppliers for Reactor” Business Line, August 18, 2008 http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2008/08/18/stories/2008081851400100.htm

[vi] “Trade, nuclear power tops Sarkozy’s India wish list” France 24, Dec 05, 2010

http://www.france24.com/en/20101204-india-france-trade-nuclear-power-deals-top-india-wish-list-sarkozy

[vii] “France, Russia ensure uninterrupted fuel supply to Indian rectors”, Globalsecurity.org,,Sept 17, 2008

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/india/2008/india-080917-irna01.htm

[viii] “In India the Nuclear Stampede Begins”, Asia Times Online, Nov 22, 2006. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/HK22Df01.html

[ix] “Work begins for nuclear plant in Maharashtra”, Earth Times, May 3, 2007 www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/58714.html

[x] “India, France ink landmark agreement”  Rediff News, September 30, 2008. http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/sep/30ndeal3.htm

[xi] “PM Gets rare honour as Chief Guest on French Day” Indian Express, July 14, 2009.  http://www.indianexpress.com/news/PM-gets-rare-honour-as-Chief-Guest-on-French-Day/489092/

[xii] “India to get 2 nuclear reactors” Deccan Herald, Dec 06, 2010.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/118500/india-get-2-nuclear-reactors.html

[xiii] “Jaitapur power plant gets environmental clearance”, NDTV, Nov 28, 2010

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/jaitapur-power-plant-gets-environmental-clearance-69147

[xiv] “Jaitapur n-reactors flagged off but liability concerns remain” Indian Express, Dec 7, 2010. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/jaitapur-nreactors-flagged-off-but-liability-concerns-remain/721283/