India Table of Contents
Nuclear-power developments are under the purview of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, a government-owned entity under the Department of Atomic Energy. The corporation is responsible for designing, constructing, and operating nuclear-power plants. In 1995 there were nine operational plants with a potential total capacity of 1,800 megawatts, about 3 percent of India's total power generation. There are two units each in Tarapur, north of Bombay in Maharashtra; in Rawatbhata in Rajasthan; in Kalpakkam near Madras in Tamil Nadu; and in Narora in Uttar Pradesh; and one unit in Kakrapur in southeastern Gujarat. However, of the nine plants, all have been faced with safety problems that have shut down reactors for periods ranging from months to years. The Rajasthan Atomic Power Station in Rawatbhata was closed indefinitely, as of February 1995. Moreover, environmental problems, caused by radiation leaks, have cropped up in communities near Rawatbhata. Other plants operate at only a fraction of their capacity, and some foreign experts consider them the most inefficient nuclear-power plants in the world.
In addition to the nine established plants, seven reactors are under construction in the mid-1990s: one at Kakrapur and two each at Kaiga, on the coast of Karnataka, Rawatbhata, and Tarapur, which, when finished, will bring an additional 2,320 megawatts of energy online. Construction of ten additional reactors is in the planning stage for Kaiga, Rawatbhata, and Kudangulam in Tamil Nadu, which, when combined, will supply 4,800 megawatts capacity. The overall plan is to increase nuclear-generation capacity to 10,000 megawatts by FY 2000, but work has been slowed because of financial shortages. India partially overcame its shortage of enriched uranium--needed to fuel the Tarapur units--by imports from China, starting in 1995.
For a country of its size, India does not have a great deal of mineral wealth (see fig. 11). Mining accounted for less than 2 percent of GDP in FY 1990. Nonetheless, iron and bauxite are found in sufficient quantities to base industries on their extraction and processing. Assessment of the country's resources by the Geological Survey of India is still far from complete in the mid-1990s, and observers do not rule out the possibility of important new finds.
In 1992 reserves of iron ore were estimated at among the world's largest--at 19.2 billion tons. Extraction capacity is 67 million tons of ore per year, but only 53 million tons were produced in FY 1992. About 60 percent of output is exported, mainly to the South Korea and Japan. The largest iron ore mining project is at Kudremukh, Chikmagalore District, Karnataka. India also has abundant bauxite, the main mineral source for aluminum. Reserves are estimated at about 2.7 billion tons, or 8 percent of the world total. In FY 1991, 512,000 tons of aluminum were produced, of which 61,000 tons were exported. Most bauxite mines are in Bihar and Karnataka. India is the world's third largest producer of manganese, and its mines extracted around 1.4 million tons of manganese ore per year in the early 1990s from a total estimated reserve of 180 million tons. India also has significant reserves of copper, estimated at 422 million tons. However, the production of copper, at 46,000 tons in FY 1991, fell well short of domestic demand. Most copper mines are in Bihar and Rajasthan. Smaller amounts of lead, zinc, and mica are also produced.
Ownership and the power to grant mineral concessions generally have rested with the state governments. The central government, however, has exerted considerable influence over such leases, particularly in cases of important and strategic minerals. In fact, most mining of important and strategic minerals is undertaken by central government enterprises in which states sometimes hold part ownership. In the early 1990s, uranium ore was mined, milled, and processed only in Bihar; rare earths--including mineral sands, monazite, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, rare earths chloride, and others--were mined in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Orissa. During this period, the central government was attempting to increase the private sector's share of this industry.
Data as of September 1995
India Table of Contents