NEW DELHI: India and Russia putting all speculations to rest on Thursday signed General Framework Agreement and Credit Protocol for constructing Units 5 & 6 at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) giving much needed boost to nuclear industry in this country.
The Agreement was signed after the 18th edition of Indo-Russian annual Summit at St Petersburg where PM Narendra Modi arrived on Wednesday night on a three-day visit.
"We welcome the conclusion of the General Framework Agreement and Credit Protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant... The future of Indian-Russian cooperation holds great promise across a wide spectrum covering nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear science and technology," a read the St Petersburg Declaration (which laid down vision for partnership in the 21st century) issued after Modi-Putin annual summit.
The growing partnership in the nuclear power sector between India and Russia has opened opportunities for developing advanced nuclear manufacturing capabilities in India in line with Government of India’s “Make in India” initiative, the Declaration outlined.
Earlier the two sides held last-minute talks to iron out details and on language of the agreement on a line of credit for building Units 5 and 6 of KNPP that will complete set of six reactors in pair of two for the complex. Russia is expected to be offered another site for a set of six reactors and the location could be Andhra Pradesh.
The reactors are being built by India's Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Russia's Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex. The MEA last month described a report as mischief which tried to link signing of agreements for Units 5 & 6 with Russia’s failure to convince China to support India for NSG membership.
The two units of the plant, with capacity to produce 1000 MW of electricity each, will significantly boost the country's nuclear power generation. Total power generation from six reactors of KNPP will be 6,000 MW.
Unit 1 of the Kudankulam NPP was put into commercial operation in December 2014, and Unit 2, in late March of this year. Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam NPP are under construction. The nominal capacity of Units 1 and 2 is 2000 MW. Unit 1 produced over 13 million units of power by January 26 this year.
"Extremely important documents have been signed that have been the focus of intensive joint work during the recent months. At the present time, all the formalities have been executed in order to finally launch the project of the construction of two new power units of Kudankulam NPP under Russian technologies. I would like to point out with satisfaction that in such a way the project implementation has been transferred into the practical phase," said President of ASE Group of Companies (part of Rosatom) Valery Limarenko who signed agreement on behalf of Russia. The Indian signatory was NPCIL Chairman and MD Satish K Sharma.
Ramamurti Rajaraman, Prof (Emeritus) School of Physical Sciences, JNU told ET, “Signing of agreements to build Units 5 & 6 are an important milestone to generate additional nuclear energy in India. Today Russia remains India’s sole foreign partner for generation of nuclear power plants as both US and French firms are undergoing internal restructuring and therefore their role here at this moment is uncertain. Besides, Indo-Russian nuclear partnership acts a CBM and this would enable Moscow to back India on geopolitical issues. It must also be noted that foreign supported nuclear power plants are in no way in conflict with 10 indigenous reactors that India plans to construct. The KNPP and proposed Indian reactors will be based on different technologies.”
The current nuclear power generation capacity of all 22 nuclear power reactors in India is 6780 MW.
In October 2015, a joint statement between Modi and Putin promised the signing of a General Framework Agreement on the nuclear units by December 2016. After an inter-ministerial group cleared the project, it was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval. But, officials said, the Credit Protocol, or a line of credit that Russia was to provide, proved to be a hurdle.
KKNPP was the outcome of an inter-governmental agreement between the erstwhile Soviet Union and India in 1988. It is the single largest nuclear power station in India, situated in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Construction on the plant began on 31 March 2002. The reactors are pressurised water reactor of Russian design, model VVER-1000/V-412 referred also as AES-92.
The Kudankulam NPP fully meets the requirements of regulations and technical standards of Russia, IAEA and is certified for compliance with the requirements of the European association of operating organizations (European Utility Requirements (EUR), according to Russian officials. KNPP is regarded one of the safest in the world with all post-Fukushima safety requirements being implemented and functioning successfully. The NPP is also protected from natural and technlogical disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes even plane crash.