India and Russia on 5 October signed an agreement for the construction of six new nuclear power plant units in India. The was signed on the sidelines of the 19th India-Russia annual bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom said the agreement is to develop six Russian-designed nuclear power units “at a new site in India”. The agreement also allows for increased nuclear plant cooperation in third countries and new nuclear technologies.

The “Action Plan for Prioritisation and Implementation of Cooperation Areas in the Nuclear Field” was signed by Rosatom director-general Alexei Likhachev and Kamlesh Vyas, secretary of India’s Department of Atomic Energy and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. According to Likhachev the reference plant for the units will be the Generation III+ VVER-1200 units at Novovoronezh NPP in Russia.

The new project will run in parallel with the ongoing 6000MWe Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu, which will have six 1000MWe VVER-1000 units. Two are already operating with two more under construction and two planned. Construction of Kudankulam NPP was first agreed in 1988 with the Soviet leadership. Work finally began in 2002, and unit 1 began operating in 2013.

Likhachev said Rosatom expects to start implementation in the near future serial construction of new units at a second site in India. "This will significantly increase level of equipment localisation within the framework of the ‘Make in India’ policy, as well as optimise timing and cost of the project execution. Moreover, India is our trusted partner, with whom we are already implementing projects in the third countries, and we plan to enhance this cooperation.”

Commenting on the agreement, Jawaharlal Nehru University Emeritus Professor Ramamurti Rajaraman noted that Russia is the only country to have successfully built nuclear power plants in India, despite the problems posed for foreign suppliers by India's civil nuclear liability insurance law.

India is also collaborating with Russia in setting up Bangladesh's first nuclear plant at Rooppur. Under a trilateral agreement, Indian companies can be involved in construction and installation works, the supply of material and equipment of a non-critical category, as well as in the training of personnel.