US, India reaffirm plan to build six nuclear power plants

Nuclear rep AP Representational image | AP

In a major boost to non-fossil fuel energy projects, India and the US on Wednesday released a joint statement announcing plans to build six nuclear power plants in India. The two countries had initially announced preparations to build six nuclear reactors in 2016, but progress was slow.

The agreement came following talks in Washington between visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Andrea Thompson, the US under-secretary of state for arms control and international security. “They committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six US nuclear power plants in India," the statement said, without specifying further details.

While the US had led the initiative to end India's 'nuclear' isolation in the past decade, commercial ventures between the two nations have been slow to fructify. A major bone of contention was the issue of liabilities in the event of accidents at nuclear plants, which the US wanted to be borne by the operators of the facility and not the makers.

In addition, US-based Westinghouse, which had been negotiating for reactor projects in India, filed for bankruptcy in 2017. However, the company was bought by Canadian Brookfield Asset Management in 2018.

Westinghouse also received support from the Trump administration for its bid to build six nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh, first announced in 2016. The proposed site is at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district, where land acquisition has already started. The nuclear power plant was originally planned to be built in Gujarat's Mithivirdi.