Bloomberg News

India, Russia Talks on Reactors for Protest-Hit Plant Continue

December 14, 2011

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- India said it is still negotiating with Russia terms for two more reactors for a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu state, signaling an agreement is unlikely to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow this week.

Talks on technical and commercial aspects of the accord are at an “advanced stage” and continuing, India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, said at a press briefing in New Delhi today. The government will soon “take a call” when to sign the contract, he said.

Nuclear Power Corp. of India, the state-owned monopoly, is building two 1,000-megawatt reactors with Russia’s Rosatom Corp. at a cost of $2.6 billion at Kudankulam on Tamil Nadu’s coast. While the plant is near completion, protests by villagers opposing the project on safety concerns have delayed it.

Opposition to the plant gathered pace after the March 11 earthquake in Japan triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Mathai denied media reports India has backed off from signing a contract with Russia for the reactors during Singh’s visit to avoid a fresh political storm in the southern state.

India and Russia will finalize agreements in the fields of health, science and defense during Singh’s trip, which is aimed at improving ties, Mathai said. Singh is scheduled to leave for Russia tomorrow.

Protests have also hit another nuclear facility at Jaitapur on India’s western coast where Areva SA plans to build a 9,900- megawatt project. Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the eastern state of West Bengal, announced in August that her state won’t allow a 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant on its soil.

--Editors: Mark Williams, Suresh Seshadri.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hari Govind at hgovind@bloomberg.net


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