Stating that the country was on the threshold of a new milestone in its quest for civil nuclear energy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced that the first nuclear reactor with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam would start operating soon with the second reactor to follow later in the current year.
''As we pursue our national growth objectives to meet the rising aspirations of our people, the supply of affordable clean energy will be one of our foremost national challenges and a key priority for our government. Nuclear energy will remain an essential and increasingly important element of our energy mix. We are in the process of expanding our indigenous nuclear power programme,'' he said on the occasion of Department of Atomic Energy's Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2011 here.
The PM, however, made it clear that there would be no compromise with the safety and livelihoods of the people in the country's pursuit on nuclear power.
''Even as we implement our power programme, we will continue to ensure that nuclear power remains wholly safe. The Fukushima incident in 2011 raised justifiable safety concerns about nuclear power.''
He also disclosed that the reviews of the nuclear power plants in the country had been completed. ''Our cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency has been enhanced, and the first Operational Safety Review Team recently visited the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station.'' Parliament was also examining a Bill to set up a new Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority, he added.
The PM praised Indian scientists and technologists for working with unfailing commitment, dedication and skill despite decades of facing international technology denial regimes. ''It is to their credit that India has now mastered advanced technologies and developed indigenous capabilities across the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Their efforts have not only given us deterrence capabilities and nuclear energy, but national capacity to apply the benefits of nuclear science to areas such as agriculture and healthcare.”
He was confident that these scientists and technologists would serve as beacons of inspiration for the younger generations of scientists and technologists. “'We should ensure that we continue to attract the best scientific minds among our younger generations to these fields. Even more, I hope that our nuclear scientists would continue to be guided by the basic goal of directing scientific activities to bring about an improvement in the quality of life of our people.”
New Delhi, January 15
Tribune News Service