[The Hindu, 6 April; BHEL, 4 April] The two giants of India's nuclear power sector, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a joint venture company to carry out engineering, procurement and construction activities for nuclear power plants both at home and abroad. The companies are also looking for an international technological partner, and are in talks with companies in France, Germany and the USA, according to BHEL chairman and managing director K Ravi Kumar. The joint venture, which is expected to start operations in the next 18 months, will explore and evaluate technology options for steam turbine generator sets of 700 MWe and above, and also help BHEL to develop its capabilities to design and manufacture such generator sets for India's existing and future nuclear projects. India's relative isolation from international trade, thanks to its nuclear weapons program and status as a non-signatory of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, has meant that its nuclear energy sector has developed largely indigenously. India currently has 17 operating nuclear power units totalling some 3779 MWe, and plans to increase nuclear capacity to 20,000 MWe 2020, subject to the opening of international trade.