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Maharashtra seeks to get Jaitapur’s N plant back on track

The government of Eknath Shinde has started talks with the Center for the rapid start of construction of the 9,900 MW nuclear power project at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district.

The project with an investment of Rs1 lakh crore was proposed in 2010 and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) had even built a camp office. But the work could not start because the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011 changed all the parameters related to safety.

Industry Minister Uday Samant told the Free Press Journal: “The government has started talks with the Center to start construction as soon as possible. The state will benefit the most with clear and assured power at competitive rates.

Samant’s statement came after it was announced that the State had entered into talks with the Center to restart Ratnagiri Gas Power Private Ltd’s 1,967 MW gas-fired power project, previously known as the Dabhol electricity.

Samant’s statement is important ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India early next year. Sources from the state’s energy ministry said the technical, financial and nuclear liability issues surrounding Jaitapur would likely be resolved before Macron’s visit.

An email sent to the NPCIL went unanswered. The French major AREVA, which was to supply six European pressure reactors (EPR) of 1,650 MW each for the project, subsequently withdrew.

The French utility EDF has made a legally binding offer to NPCIL for the construction of six EPRs in Jaitapur. A high-level EDF team visited India in May this year and held in-depth discussions with representatives of the NPCIL.

Currently, NPCIL and EDF are engaged in technical and commercial negotiations to reach an agreement on the supply of EPRs. As a result of the incorporation of additional security measures, the cost of the project is expected to increase and this will affect the electricity tariff.

NPCIL will be responsible for the construction and commissioning of the units as well as obtaining all required permits in India. Its responsibility includes the certification of EPR technology by the Indian nuclear regulatory authority.

The Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray, opposed the project and did not change their position. On the other hand, the BJP, the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde, the NCP and the Congress are not opposed to the project.

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