Railways declines to partner with DAE for building foreign nuclear reactors

The Department of Atomic Energy’s efforts to forge joint ventures with PSUs for building foreign nuclear reactors in the country has received a setback with the Railways declining its offer to enter a partnership for the purpose, a senior government official has said. The Railways has not cited any reason for refusing to collaborate with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a PSU under the DAE, the official said. The NPCIL operates 22 nuclear reactors in the country with a total capacity of 6,780 MW.

Under the proposal, the DAE had also offered to sell electricity to the Railways but the national carrier did not find it lucrative. The official, who requested anonymity, said the Railways was looking for capital for its own expansion and they seemed unwilling to divert their resources. The NPCIL has also entered joint ventures with the National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO), the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). However, even the response from these companies has not been very forthcoming, the official pointed out.

Generation of nuclear energy in India is restricted to PSUs. The high capital-intensive sector demands massive funds, especially for the foreign reactors that are coming up after the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008. The government decided to rope in PSUs to provide the much-needed capital for the sector. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962, was also amended by Parliament last year to enable the NPCIL to form joint ventures with other PSUs.

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