The US-Russia rivalry over setting up Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in India has intensified in recent times. While Moscow has asked New Delhi to identify the location of a new NPP for constructing six power units of 1,200mw each on the basis of an Indo-Russian agreement, Toshiba Corporation’s Westinghouse Electric has said that it is in “advanced discussions” with the South Asian nation for setting up six nuclear reactors.

Director (for Projects in India) of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) Vladimir A Angelov recently said: “We are waiting for the Indian party to identify the location for the new NPP. These six units will be 1,200mw each of VVER (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) type.” As per the 2014 Strategic Vision for Strengthening Co-operation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy between New Delhi and Moscow, ROSATOM had agreed to set up 12 units in India over the next two decades.

With both sides striving to complete the construction, ROSATOM has urged India to show a sense of urgency in commissioning not less than 12 units in the next 20 years. Angelov told the media that the Narendra Modi government should identify a second site in Kudankulam NPP, where the Russian company has constructed six nuclear power units. He claimed that the existing six units recently generated 1,006mw of power as against their capacity of 995mw. ASE Group President Valery Limarenko, too, expressed satisfaction over the success of reactors in Kudankulam NPP, saying that they could generate up to 1,020mw of electricity and “it is very important for us to generate power for the Indian people”.

Meanwhile, Westinghouse Electric has announced that it will set up six nuclear reactors in India. The announcement has been made ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington. Indian Ambassador to the US Arun Singh has confirmed the news, saying that a deal with Westinghouse will be the first such contract reached under the 2008 Indo-US civil nuclear accord.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington a couple of days ago, the envoy said: “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 informed the press that although Westinghouse agreed to build six AP-1000 nuclear reactors in India, New Delhi is yet to identify locations. The Indian government will finalise the location after Modi’s June 7-8 visit to the US, added Singh.

In 2008, India and the US agreed to co-operate in the civil nuclear arena. However, they have made no agreements to build any NPPs. With Westinghouse reaching a breakthrough with India in May, the Indian government has hinted that it will relocate the planned project in the southern province of Andhra Pradesh. Earlier, New Delhi decided to allow Westinghouse to implement the multi-billion-dollar project in western province of Gujarat – PM Modi’s home state.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]