Land acquisition, securing environmental clearances begin for 10 PHWRs in India

Pre-Project activities like Land Acquisition and Environmental Clearance are in full swing for the construction of the ambitious project of setting up 10 indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). Tenders have also been issued for procurement of equipment.

The Indian Government is aiming to increase the country’s total nuclear power capacity to 22,480 MW by the year 2031. The announcement for the 10 PHWRs was made by the Indian Government in June 2017 and it will be an impetus for the Indian nuclear industry, whose order books had been empty for the last decade. The public sector undertaking Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) will be setting up these PHWRs, for which administrative and financial sanction has already been granted by the government.

The reactors have been proposed to be set up at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh (two units), Kaiga in Karnataka (two units), Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan (four units) and Gorakhpur in Haryana (two units). “Pre-project activities comprising of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement, Environmental Clearance, etc are in progress at various stages at these sites. Land is available at Kaiga and Gorakhpur sites and land acquisition is at an advanced stage at Chutka and Mahi Banswara sites,” the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh has said in a written reply.

“Environmental Clearance is accorded for Chutka 1&2 and GHAVP 3&4 projects. For other sites, the process of Environmental Clearance is in various stages. In addition, procurement of long manufacturing cycle equipment, human resource planning etc. have been initiated,” the Minister added. Each of these unit will have a capacity of 700 MW.

The Narendra Modi-led government has for the first time decided to set up a nuclear power plant in North India. So far the nuclear installations have been restricted to South India and that too in coastal region. Availability of water would be an important criteria to secure environmental clearance for the nuclear reactors.

The PHWR technology in India started in the late nineteen sixties with the construction of the first 220 MWe reactor, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, RAPS-1 with a design similar with that of the Douglas Point reactor in Canada under the joint Indo-Canadian nuclear co-operation. Canada supplied all main equipment for this first unit. India retained responsibility for construction, installation and commissioning activities. For the second unit (RAPS-2), import content was reduced considerably and indigenization was taken up for major pieces of equipment.