In what is certain to give a phenomenal boost to Gujarat's overall development, the prime minister’s office (PMO) is learnt to have approved Gujarat’s Mithivirdi (Chhaya) site in Bhavnagar district for an 8,000 MW nuclear power plant.
The 1,000 acre site, along with another in Andhra Pradesh, has been identified for the setting up of nuclear power plants. These power plants will use nuclear reactors to be purchased from the United States under the nuclear deal signed by the UPA government last year.
The main Opposition in the last Lok Sabha, the BJP, may have opposed the N-deal for political reasons, but the government of Narendra Modi, the saffron party’s poster boy, is unlikely to desist from reaping its benefits.
As with the Nano project, Gujarat has beaten several other states in the race to bag this prestigious project. What makes it especially exciting is that 40% of the power generated by this plant is likely to be given to Gujarat.
State energy minister Saurabh Patel told DNA on Wednesday that full details are awaited. But DNA has learnt from highly placed sources that the PMO has communicated its approval for the Mithivirdi site to the state government.
“An informal approval for the Mithivirdi site in Bhavnagar, adjoining the ship-breaking yard at Alang, has been received from the PMO, but details are still awaited. As per the proposal submitted by us, it will be an 8,000 MW plant. We are also hoping that the Centre will accept our proposal that 40% of the power generated by the plant be given to Gujarat,” the sources said.
Put in perspective, the scale of this project is massive. India’s total power generation capacity from 17 operational nuclear power plants is currently just 4,120 MW.
The Mithivirdi plant may be set up on 1,000 acres of land on the coast, though details are yet to be finalised. “It is premature to estimate the total investment required, but it will run into several hundred crores,” sources said.
Mithivirdi was selected by the Site Location Committee appointed by the central government’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), headed by its CMD SK Jain. Six sites, including one in Ahmedabad, Junagadh and some others in Bhavnagar itself, were identified and short-listed by the committee.
Mithivirdi’s proximity to the sea, and distance from a wildlife sanctuary and dense human habitat, are believed to have worked in its favour. In May, the NPCIL signed an MoU with Westinghouse Electric Company, a US company, to discuss the technical aspects of setting up multiple AP1000 reactors in India.