Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to Russia and arrived at St Petersburg on Thursday morning. He is slated to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly and the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) located in Tamil Nadu is one of the most vital topics expected to come up for discussion between the two leaders. The plant has two units still pending and are to be made in collaboration with a Russian firm. Both countries are likely to sign 12 agreements and if Kudankulam deal is settled, it will be the highlight of PM Modi’s trip to Russia. Here is all you need to know about the KKNPP deal and the prime minister’s visit:
1. The KKNPP was the result of an inter-government agreement between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. During the same period, two other similar proposals were defeated as protest stymied government’s plans to build plants in Peringome near Kannur and Bhoothathankettu in Ernakulam, both districts in Kerala.
2. KKNPP ran into hurdles as protests stopped the government from moving ahead with the project. At the peak of Kudankulam protests six years ago, 182 people were arrested, many charged under sedition. A total of 8,000 cases have been registered. However, slowly the government has managed to take the project ahead. Over the years, four reactor units were built and operationalised. The plant though didn’t yield promised power during warranty testings. Its generation was only about 52 per cent.
3. The last two reactor units will be built and installed jointly by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and Atomstroyexport. The latter is a subsidiary of Rosatom–regulatory body of Russian nuclear complex. Each of the units will have a power generation capacity of 1,000 MW.
4. PM Modi and Putin had come to an agreement in 2015. Under that agreement, the deal for building unit 5 and unit 6 of nuclear reactors at the plant was supposed to be inked in 2016. The deal ran into a hurdle with regard to the line of credit that was to be extended by Russia.
5. The visit will seek to seal the deal so that the plant can be made fully operational soon. The success of the deal will also mean a boost in bilateral trade. India-Russia bilateral trade stands at $7.8 billion as of now. The number has reduced significantly from $10 billion in 2014. Both countries plan to increase it to at least $30 billion over the next five years.
6. India has installed a “Make in India” pavilion at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and nearly 60 Indian leaders in business are expected to be part of the summit. The Indian delegation will also hold roundtable meetings and an India-Eurasia economic and business breakfast. The 12 bilateral agreements to be signed between the countries deal with trade, science, technology, railways, cultural exchange, civil nuclear cooperation.
PM Modi’s first stop will be the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery. It commemorates the 5 lakh Russian soldiers that were killed during World War II in Leningrad. The prime minister will be then received by Putin as Konstantin Palace, official residence of the Russian president. The summit will be followed by a state dinner hosted by Putin for PM Modi. PM Modi will also attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum as the guest of honour. It will be the first time that PM Modi will attend the business-cum-political forum.