The issue also took political overtones with Punjab Congress chief and former chief minister, too, giving thumbs down to the plan, saying a nuke power plant in a densely populated border state will be a huge security risk. “Punjab can’t afford it. The risks involved are disproportionately much more than the advantages. We may not need it given the production capacity of existing plants,” said Amarinder.
The Congress government had rejected the proposal for setting up a nuclear power plant in Darauli in Patiala in early 2000.
The PSPCL chief said with super critical thermal plants at Talwandi Sabo and Rajpura, Punjab has installed capacity of over 11,000 megawatts against expected peak demand of 10,500 MW. “Even in the peak load scenario, if we run our plants — both state-owned (Lehra Mohabbut, Ropar and Bathinda) and private — we would generate 500 MW more than the demand,” said Chaudhri.
The PSPCL chief, however, said the government can set up a nuclear plant in a neighbouring state from where the state can take power supply whenever the need arises.
“A nuclear plant can’t be planned on state-to-state basis but should be set up to feed a region,” opines expert Padamjit Singh. He cited the example of the Kudankulum nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu where a 6,000-MW facility generates power for the entire southern region. “Being a border state, it’s not an intelligent move to set up a plant in Punjab as it will make it more vulnerable,” he adds. “Punjab is densely populated, with huge land scarcity. Why can’t such a plant come up in a Rajasthan desert. It can feed the entire region,’ he suggested.