nuclear reactor
A view of the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu. India will soon enter intro discussions with French experts on building a massive nuclear power plant in Jaitapur in Maharashtra state. (Representational Picture)REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Indian and French experts will soon begin discussions to determine the cost of the proposed nuclear power plant in Jaitapur in the western state of Maharashtra.

The discussions to build the 9,900mW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) have now been made possible by a techno-commercial proposal that French nuclear power company EDF recently submitted to India, reports said citing government sources.

A techno-commercial offer is significant in that it sets off the negotiations process as it helps the parties determine the project cost and the energy tariff.

The EDF proposal came within a week of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian agreeing to speed up the work on the project, the report said.

The Indian minister was upbeat about fast-tracking the project that had been lagging after the initial negotiations in 2010. "Both countries are working to start the Jaitapur nuclear energy project as soon as possible," Sushma Swaraj said after her meeting with her French counterpart.

"We are glad that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL)and EDF have made progress based on the Industrial Way Forward Agreement. Today, we have adopted the Status of Progress for Implementation of Industrial Way Forward Agreement," she said.

The proposal is now before the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), the Department of Atomic Energy's arm that operates public sector atomic power plants.

Sources say that when the discussions first began, energy giant Areva was expected to be the French partner. Following Areva's financial troubles, utility company EDF took over its nuclear reactor business and approached the Indian government for continuing the discussions on JNPP.

Sources said the discussions were stuck on the 'reference plant' for JNPP that would serve as the model for discussions. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the nuclear watchdog, has been insistent on studying the reference plant before giving the green signal to the discussions.

Finally, the two parties have settled on the plant in Flamanville as the reference plant for the JNPP, which will be the country's biggest nuclear power plant with six reactors each with a capacity of 1,650 mW.