The government plans to wait it out till the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project becomes operational before moving ahead with a proposal to divest stake in the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
The decision comes after the department of atomic energy (DAE) advised that the NPCIL issue would become more attractive after the commencement of electricity generation at the much-delayed 2,000 MWe (mega watt electrical) project in Tamil Nadu.
Both the company and the DAE are on board on the disinvestment. It will certainly happen in this fiscal,but the timeline will be finalised only after Unit I becomes operational, a senior finance ministry official said.
Unit I of the Kudankulam nuclear power project was expected to start in December 2011 but progress was stalled due to safety concerns raised by protesters at the site. The first unit of the Indo-Russian joint venture project is now likely to start commercial operations by August,according to the NPCIL.
The atomic power utility has already kicked off pre-service inspection of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of the first unit and is hopeful of loading actual fuel in the 1,000 MWe first unit by the month end.
As reported by The Indian Express earlier,the department of disinvestment has been looking at the possibility of listing NPCIL,which is involved in the strategic area of nuclear power generation.
Until now,the government has largely shied away from divesting stake in PSUs in the strategic sectors,barring a few defence units. Sources said that the government is considering a 5 per cent stake sale in NPCIL through an initial public offering along with the company also raising equity from the market to finance its capital expansion plans. NPCIL is,at present,wholly owned by the Centre.
NPCIL currently has a production capacity of 4,780 MWe from 20 nuclear reactors. It plans to build 10 indigenous reactors of 700 MWe that would use natural uranium as fuel and 10 imported reactors of 1,000 MWe each,which would use enriched uranium as fuel during the Twelfth Plan period.
Eyeing better profit
* Department of atomic energy has advised that the NPCIL issue would become more attractive after the commencement of electricity generation at the project in Tamil Nadu
* Unit I of the Kudankulam nuclear power project was expected to start in December 2011 but was stalled due to protests. It is now likely to start operations by August