Ganga water poser on nuke power plant

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  • Published 24.05.14

The plan of Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited (BSPHCL) to set up a nuclear power plant at Rajauli in Nawada is floating in the Ganga, literally. The company is finding it hard to get the clearance for using the river water for the nuclear power project.

The non-availability of proportionate volume of water at the project site, around 145km south of Patna, has virtually dashed the state government’s dream of having a nuclear power plant of 1,400MW (two units of 700 MW each). A senior company official told The Telegraph: “The company recently sent its team of engineers with those from the water resources and irrigation departments for a presentation before the Ganga Water Commission on how it would draw 280 cusecs of water upstream and compensate the panel with the same volume of water downstream.”

Out of 280 cusecs water from Ganga that the power company intends to use for its two major power plants — 160 cusecs of water for the nuclear power plant at Rajauli and 120 cusecs for the 4,000MW ultra mega power project (UMPP) at Banka, the clearance for which the central government gave last year.

“We are yet to receive any response from the commission but we are hopeful of getting clearance for the plant,” a source of the company said, adding that the issue of giving clearance for the use of water for power plants assumes significance because the commission is bound to obey the various international and inter-state treaties on Ganga water.

Earlier, the state government had in April 2011 given a quiet burial to the nuclear power plant at Rajauli because of non-availability of water. The issue of setting up a nuclear power plant resurfaced when Ratan Kumar Sinha, who hails from Bihar and an alumnus of the then Bihar College of Engineering (now NIT), became the chairman of Atomic Energy Commission.

On Sinha’s directive, a two-member team of experts of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) on February 20, 2013 made on-the-spot inspection of the site at Rajauli in Nawada to explore the possibility afresh for setting up a nuclear power plant there. There is an initial proposal from NPCIL to set up four units of 700MW at Rajauli but the power company official sources said only two units of 700MW can be actually set up with the availability of 160 cusecs of water per day.

Even in 2007, NPCIL had approved a 2x700MW (1,400MW) nuclear power plant because of the non-availability of proportionate volume of water in the Phulwaria reservoir (in the district) for the proposed power plant and other reasons.

The Phulwaria reservoir did not have much water because it was dependent solely on rainwater, the company official sources said, adding that the water resources department was contemplating on constructing a dam on Dhanarje river, which would be connected with the Phulwaria reservoir through a canal to meet the water requirement.