India-USA NPP deal expected

7 June 2016

Toshiba-owned American firm Westinghouse and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) are in "advanced discussions" for the company to build six AP1000 nuclear reactors in India, according to India's Ambassador to the US, Arun Singh. "There is a very detailed and advanced negotiation between Westinghouse and India. The issues that remain to be worked out are related to cost and financing," he told reporters on 1 June, ahead of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi's planned visit to Washington.

This would be the first contract reached with the US under the 2008 US-India civil nuclear accord. Reuters reported that Westinghouse and India reached a breakthrough after the company said it will relocate the planned project to the Srikakulam area of Andhra Pradesh. NPCIL, which will operate the units, has made a down payment on 800 hectares of land in the coastal district of Shrikakulam, according to The Indian Express.

The original site proposed for the multibillion-dollar project, at Mithi Virdi district in Modi's home state of Gujarat, has faced strong local opposition. "Japanese and American officials, and businesses, have a good experience of dealing with the government in Andhra Pradesh. So, when problems arose in Gujarat due to protesting farmers, it was a natural decision to relocate to Andhra Pradesh," an official told The Indian Express.

Another obstacle had been to bring India's liability rules into line with international norms, which require the costs of an accident to be channelled to the NPP operator rather than the supplier. This issue had been largely resolved to the satisfaction of Washington during President Barack Obama's visit to India in January 2015 after the insurance pool and India ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. A further development was the Indo-Japan nuclear deal signed in December 2015 which allows Toshiba, the parent company of Westinghouse, to engage in nuclear commerce in India.

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