Nuclear power generation capacity is built over a period of time and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's announcement of a Rs. 3, 000 crore yearly allocation for the next two decades is certainly a welcome move, said a top atomic energy official.
"The nuclear power capacity will be built in a steady pace over a period of time. The plans for capacity addition will be made based on the money on hand. With the Atomic Energy Act being amended, other public sector companies can invest in this sector, " Atomic Energy department Secretary Sekhar Basu told IANS.
The Rs. 3, 000 crore per year over the next 15 - 20 years stated by Jaitley will be over and above the current annual allocations for the sector, he said, adding that presently the plan is to build 10 reactors with a power generation capacity of 7, 700 MW.
Basu said the capacity additions will happen through Indian as well as foreign reactors.
Presenting the budget for 2016 - 17, Jaitley said: "In the power sector, we need to diversify the sources of power generation for long term stability. Government is drawing up a comprehensive plan, spanning next 15 to 20 years, to augment the investment in nuclear power generation. "
"Budgetary allocation up to Rs. 3, 000 crore per annum, together with public sector investments, will be leveraged to facilitate the required investment for this purpose, " he said.
Basu said 30 percent of the project cost will be equity and the balance will be loans in the case of Indian reactors.
He said in the case of foreign reactors, the foreign loans are relatively cheaper than domestic funds.
"We have now decided to fix the number of reactors in a site upfront for a foreign reactor so that costs will come down in a drastic manner, " Basu said.
According to him, over the next 20 year period India will also building fast breeder reactors - a reactor that breeds more fission material than it consumes.
Citing Jaitley's statement Basu said it is heartening to note that the finance minister has termed nuclear power as one power source for long term stability.