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SOURCE: PTI

India and France are trying to move forward on elements related to putting in place a financing mechanism and localisation component for the 9,900 MWe Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district.

Responding to questions on civil nuclear cooperation between India and France and whether the Jaitapur project was put on pause, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the French power company EDF and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) were discussing elements such as a financing mechanism and localisation component of the project.

“The two entities on both sides—EDF and NPCIL—are essentially trying to move forward on these issues and a whole lot of progress has been made,” the foreign secretary said.

The first memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Jaitapur nuclear project was inked in 2009 with French nuclear supplier Areva, which went bankrupt.

In 2016, the EDF and NPCIL signed a revised MoU, and an “industrial way forward” in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

In 2020, the EDF submitted its techno-commercial offer for the project.

The French company plans to supply six European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) of 1,650 MW each, considered the most advanced and largest nuclear power plants ever developed.

The foreign secretary said discussions were ongoing between EDF and NPCIL to ensure that “what we put on the ground is financially viable, cost effective and has a localisation component.”

“But we are doing so under a very strong strategic commitment to the partnership on civil nuclear energy space,” Kwatra said.

“So, from our side the perspective on the principles in which we view this partnership, the specifics, the way we take it forward is absolutely clear,” he added.

Kwatra said small and modular reactors (SMR) was a relatively new space in terms of discussions between the two countries.

“You know India has its own reasonably strong SMR programme so technology needs to come together, viability needs to come together and its positioning in the overall energy mix needs to come together. Those are very positive, forward-leaning ongoing conversations between the two countries,” the foreign secretary said.