New Delhi: Despite apprehension by some MPs, the government on Thursday batted for nuclear power projects, including the one in Kundankulam, saying nuclear power is not only "clean energy" but also cheaper as compared to coal and many other countries are increasingly relying on this.

"The question is related to the Kundakulam (nuclear) Project. ....I agree with you, coal energy is the main source of power in India, but not clean energy. Nuclear energy is clean energy," Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

The country requires an additional 50,000-60,000 mega watt of power and needs to develop alternative sources of energy like nuclear power, he said.

He replied in the negative to a query whether the government is considering the option of fuel switch to allay apprehension of local population.

He also said that efforts to enhance public outreach and public communication were continuing.

On cost of nuclear power, the minister said installation cost of nuclear projects could be "little high", but power charges will be cheaper at Rs 1.80 per unit against Rs 16-18 in case of coal.

Currently, two nuclear power plants in Kundankulam, Tamil Nadu are still under construction. The delay in commissioning of these plants has led to escalation in cost to the tune of Rs 2,653 crore.

The delay has been attributed to various reasons including delivery schedule of certain components from Russia and the ongoing protests in Kudankulam against the nuclear power plant.

Responding to a supplementary as to why India was pursuing nuclear power projects, when other countries are abandoning these, Narayanasamy said the US and Russia were producing nuclear power in a big way.

Other countries like France, Japan and South Korea are also producing nuclear power to meet their growing demand, he said, adding that China has signed an agreement with Pakistan for supply of nuclear power.

To another supplementary, he said most of the power plants in Japan were running. "I have no knowledge of 10 nuclear plants been closed down. The safety measures of some of them are being upgraded after Fukushima (Tsunami) incident," he said.

Referring to Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) activities at nuclear power projects, he said as far as the Kundankulam project was concerned, "We have built roads, hospitals and schools."

The minister said barren land is used for setting up of nuclear power projects. "So, the question of uprooting people does not arise," he added.

Chairman Hamid Ansari postponed a question relating to the parameters for fund distribution for various central schemes meant to develop of villages, especially in Uttar Pradesh.

As members were not satisfied with the reply given by Panchayati Raj Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo, Ansari postponed it.

(Agencies)