Oct. 21, 2013
With demand for electricity set to double in India over the coming decade, New Delhi is actively seeking ways to plug the gap.
Singh and Putin said Monday that Russia and India would speed up the signing of a long-anticipated framework agreement to build the third and fourth reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southernmost tip of India.
Putin said the first reactor at the plant may even have been set to operate by Monday evening. “I think it could happen in the next few hours,” Putin said after talks with Singh.
Putin said the construction of as many as four more units at Kundankulam was under consideration. The Indian premier said Monday the second Kundankulam unit could be launched in early 2014.
India signed a contract with the Soviet Union to build the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in 1988. Construction started only in 1997 due to political and economic upheaval in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The project involves 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors being constructed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom.
The construction of the first two units was halted in September 2011 amid protests by local residents demanding the scrapping of the Indo-Russian project in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Protesters blocked all roads to the plant and would not allow the workers to enter.
Work resumed in March 2012 and the first unit at Kudankulam was commissioned on July 13.
According to Russian experts, negotiations on further construction at the Indian nuclear power plant have been hampered by New Delhi’s strict safety liability regulations that Moscow believes cannot be applied to Soviet-era technology.
The joint statement Monday also said Russia and India would review “the possibility of organizing direct overland transportation of energy supplies from Russia to India.”
It was unclear from the statement what methods of transportation are being proposed. India and Russia are separated by several countries, including Afghanistan and New Delhi’s avowed foe Pakistan.
Singh furthermore reaffirmed India’s interest in taking part in prospecting for energy resources in the Arctic Sea together with leading Russian companies, including the state-run Rosneft.
“We see Russia as a key partner for our energy security,” Singh said Monday.