Allaying France’s apprehension stemming out of the Shiv Sena’s opposition to the nuclear power plant at Jaitapur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed to the French government that there is “no rethink” on the proposed nuclear power project, top sources told The Indian Express.
Sources said this was conveyed at Modi’s meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on July 1. The meeting was attended by senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs and the French government.
This is seen as a huge relief to the worried French government whose Jaitapur project has been facing protests from the Shiv Sena, as recently as June this year after the Lok Sabha elections.
“There was a fair bit of concern on the French side, since the Shiv Sena is an ally of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. But the Prime Minister was very clear that his government will continue with the project at Jaitapur and there will be no change in the plans or the location,” a source privy to the discussions, said.
Modi also expressed his commitment towards the nuclear plant in Maharashtra, signalling there will be “continuity” of the plans of building the 9,900 nuclear plant in the coming years.
Following the conversation at the highest level, the two sides have decided that the government-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and French nuclear reactor supplier Areva will soon resume talks for the Jaitapur nuclear project.
French firm Areva, which had entered into an early works contract with NPCIL in December 2010, is yet to enter into a commercial contract. Areva will initially supply two evolutionary pressurised reactors (EPRs) each of 1,650 MW for the Jaitapur project and later four EPRs of the same generation capacity each.
After the Fukushima accident took place in March 2011, thorough investigations concerning the safety of French reactors and also of EPRs were conducted. Thereafter, the issues relating to the security of EPRs were settled. But the negotiations came to a halt during the polls.
In fact, the Jaitapur project came up for discussion during French Minister Laurent Fabius’s meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar as well.
Regarding the French government’s position on the civil nuclear liability, France has said they have no objection to India’s law but it wants a clear picture on its provisions.
The two sides are currently engaged in negotiating the tariff for the power generated out of the Jaitapur plant.