Areva to begin talks with NPCIL for Maha N-plants

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Dec 13 2009, 05:28am hrs
With the French Parliament ratifying the nuclear pact with India, decks have been cleared for French firm Arevas plan to set up 3,3000-mw nuclear power plants at Jaitapur, Maharashtra. The company will now begin the price-negotiation process with Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) for the same.

French Ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont on Friday said his country has accelerated negotiations with NPCIL for two EPRS (European Pressurised Reactor) of 1,650 mw each.

It was the latest round of voting at the French Parliament which happened some days ago, was instrumental behind the ratification. The Indo-French nuclear agreement was signed on September 30.

The latest in the new tide is that another four EPRs are under consideration for the Maharashtra plant in future, Bonnafont told FE. This addition would bring Indias nuclear capacity approximately on par with France. Indias present nuclear capacity is 4,500 mw. The country expects to achieve 6,600 mw by 2032.

EPR considered the third-generation in the reactor technologyis a design by Areva in cooperation with Siemens AG of Germany. Areva is constructing three EPR units this year, one in France and two in Finland and China.

Asked how much the setting up of the first set of French EPRs in the Maharashtra location will cost, Bonnafont said the ball was on Indian companys court. The building of the plant will take up few years, he added.

NPCIL estimates about Rs 33,000-crore investment on this nuclear project in South Maharashtra. For developing a total capacity of 10,000 mw, NPCIL is planning to raise Rs 15,000 crore through external credit assistance from five French banks and balance through Indian banks and other financial institutions.

The unanimous vote by both houses of Parliament has made us able reopen all high-level nuclear cooperation programmes, the French ambassador said.

France was the first to sign the nuclear pact with India within days of the lifting of the international nuclear trade embargo on India last year. This pact allows reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from French nuclear reactors under safeguards, assuring lifetime supply of nuclear fuel. At the same time, there is no bar on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Bonnafont, who was here to attend the inaugural ceremony of the 14th International Film Festival of Kerala, said Indo-French coopration in investment and employment generation was at its best in the recent years. There are as many as 500 French firms, investing in India and mostly in IT sector.

Together they employ 12 to 24 lakh Indians. In the coming years, according to the Bonnafont, France is looking out for potential Indian investment in sectors like aeronautical and food-processing. It has been the second biggest foreign tourist contributor to Rs 13,000-crore Kerala tourism.