Nuclear Energy in India:

With the shortage of fossil fuels in the energy basket of India, the nation is now determined to step its nuclear power generation capacities. The aspiration of the nation is to achieve a stake of 25% in terms of nuclear power in the total energy basket of India by 2050. However, this will involve considerable investitures both in constructing the nuclear power plants and in refurbishing the grid systems, to bring the proposed nuclear power stations online. The goal since 2004, had been to produce 20 GWe through the utilization of the nuclear power by 2020, but in 2007 the Prime Minister had dubbed such aspirations as ‘modest’, and that the country held the capacities of generating twice that amount, as indicated by the PM, “double with the opening up of international cooperation”. In June 2009, NPCIL had declared the ambitions for 60 GWe by 2032 in addition to 40 GWe of PWR and 7 GWe of PHWR, all being generated through nuclear technology powered by imported uranium. However, such ambitions were further revised in the projections presented before the Parliament in December 2011, which stated a 14,600 MWe target by 2020 – 2021, and 27,500 MWe by 2032, in comparison to the present contribution of nuclear power generated electricity of 4780 MW, and an envisaged 10,080 MW, when the reactors under construction will be made to come online by 2017.

The long term targets of the Atomic Energy Commission is to achieve electricity generation through nuclear resources of an estimated 600 to 700 GW by 2050, when nuclear energy will comprise of 50% of the total energy basket of the nation. With the official commissioning of the first reactor of the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant on October 22nd, 2013, and the commencement of the construction of the Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Plant in January 2014, the country might just be able to live up to its aspirations of 2032.

The proposed Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Plant:

The green signal for the commencement of the construction of India’s largest 2800W nuclear power plant had finally come from the Government on December, 2013. The constructions of the proposed plant at Gorakhpur in the Fatehbad district of Haryana, involving a budget of Rs 23, 502 crores, had been scheduled to start from January, 2014.  C B S Venkataramanna, Additional Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, had confirmed in a statement that the commencement of the project will be marked by the laying of the foundations by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sometimes in January 2014. The project, originally scheduled to start in August, 2013, was deterred in the face of the protests of some farmers, against the acquisition of their lands for the said project, which had caused a postponement of the project by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). However, some agreement had been reached with the discontented farmers by December 2013. Approximately 1500 acres of land had been earmarked for the construction of the proposed nuclear plant in the Gorakhpur, Kajalheri and Badopal village areas of the Fatehbad district and the indemnification amount paid to the 847 families of farmers, whose land had been acquired for the project, amounted to Rs 450 crores. Sources had confirmed that, while no particular date had been affixed for the foundation laying ceremony, the State Government had decided to implement a heavy police protection in the area along with the Intelligence Department of the State, who also had deployed its agents in the area, to assimilate information in the apprehension of the discontented farmers staging a protest. Other than laying the foundation stones for the proposed nuclear power plant, the PM is also supposed to address a public assemblage of the area. As had been further confirmed by the sources, “Farmers whose land were acquired for the nuclear power plant in Fatehbad district are still tilling their fields, despite being paid the entire compensation amount and there are chances that they may create some problems”. The sources had further added that the impregnable security that the state had planned to provide was explicitly in the light of the presence and security of the PM, who will be present to lay the foundation stones.

The final blueprint of the proposed nuclear plant indicates that the entire project will be demarcated into two phases, with production capacities of 700 MW each i.e. a total of 1400 MW. The Zero – Date had been affixed in January 2014, within 60 months of which the first stage of the project is estimated to be completed, with the remaining two units each of production capacity of 700MW expected to be functional after a period of four years. The completion of the phase one and the beginning of the construction of the phase two of the project will temporarily involve 8000 workers. A crew of 1700 workers will be deployed at the final stage of the project, for addressing technical and general administrative angles. As designed by the NPCIL, the main reactor unit will occupy an area of 608.5 hectares, surrounded by a ten feet high fence, which will also include a safety zone of one kilometer perimeter around the reactor.

Conclusion – PM lays foundation for the Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Plant:

As of January 13th, 2014 Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stones for the Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Plant as planned. In his public address, the PM had congratulated the population of Haryana for making such exemplary choices of power generation. As mentioned before, when fully empowered, the Grakhpur Nuclear Power Plant with an estimated budget of Rs 23, 502 crores, will be the biggest nuclear reactor in India. Considering the bigger picture, nuclear reactors are essential as alternative sources of power for the economic growth of the country. After the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which became officially functional on October 22nd, 2013, the official commissioning of the Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Plant will be a step closer for India in the emergence as a global authority in nuclear power generation.