New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit next month, a team of officials from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) will travel to US to explore funding options from Exim Bank for a nuclear power plant in Mithi Virdhi in Gujarat, which is to be built by American firm Westinghouse.

Westinghouse is to build 6 reactors of 1000 MW each in Chhaya Mithi Virdhi. It is one of the two projects to come up in India after the signing of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal—the other one being at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh of equal size to be built by another US company General Electrical.

Government sources said a team comprising top officials of the DAE will leave this week to told hold talks with Export Import Bank of US. “Since Westinghouse is an American company, the nuclear plant which is to come up in Gujarat with US cooperation is eligible for loan from the Exim Bank of the United States.

“This will also allow the DAE to explore funding options for the project, which may run into several thousand crores," said an official. The visit also assumes significance as it will send a signal to US that India is serious about the project. The sources said that the Americans are not happy with the progress of the project. Issues like certain clauses of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act 2010 has been objected to by many foreign players.

The Modi government has ratified the additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), mandatory under the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation which will put the civilian nuclear facilities under international inspection and scrutiny. This was also a signal that his government was committed to the promises made under the deal by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

However, the cost of the project still remains unclear as financial negotiations are still in the preliminary stages. The sources said the initial price quoted by Westinghouse was around 14 per unit, something which India finds very expensive and wants that the rate be brought down drastically.

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