Two years have already gone by since India and the US signed a historical agreement on nuclear technology and uranium supplies. Under this pact, foreign nuclear technology vendors can supply critical equipment to India for projects under the government’s ‘Nuclear Separation Plan’. But, it is still not yet clear how many nuclear power projects will come up and how many scientists and engineers are required for these projects.
The key issue is that the Indian government wants local firms to take up most of the contracts for these projects. However, there is no clarity about the scope of the contracts that will be distributed among Indian and foreign players.
Indian manufacturers like Larsen & Toubro can start constructing light-water reactors as soon as they get the design specifications. L&T is capable of manufacturing most of the critical equipment and also has the required expertise in instrumentation and civil construction. But it needs more scientists and engineers to handle the design aspects. “It depends on the kind of work they give to India,” said MV Kotwal, director, Larsen & Toubro. If foreign suppliers provide the design and exercise control on the manufacturing process, then L&T will need more scientists and engineers. But if they also provide the reactors, stimulators, steam boilers, critical equipments, forgings, calendula, etc, and “we get only the construction contract, requirement of local manpower will be very less,” said Kotwal.
Kotwal says L&T has signed MoUs with Russian as well as American companies to manufactures stimulators and reactors. But unless there is clarity on what these companies will provide, the kind of work and the quantum of manpower required by cannot be estimated,
L&T has signed an MoU with Westinghouse to set up a 1,150MW nuclear power project using its AP1000 technology. This project has a modular design and so can be set up in a shorter time span. Kotwal said the first ever AP1000 plant is coming up in China and is expected to be completed in 48 months. “But in our plants, the government has to decide what (part of the contract) should go to Indian manufacturers and what should go to the suppliers.”