Unmindful of the row with the Left on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday outlined the government’s commitment to the development of nuclear energy and said no government can afford to not pursue a “sound” energy security strategy. He said energy security was critical when the nation was aiming for a 10 per cent growth rate. He also lamented that there was excessive interference when it came to energy pricing.
“From a long-term perspective, nuclear and solar energy can play an important role in addressing our energy security needs. Our government is committed to the development of nuclear energy,” the PM said as he lay the foundation stone of the Rajiv Gandhi Urja Bhavan. He urged political parties to appreciate the national interest of pursuing a sound energy security strategy. “India is on the move and we must be able to address its growing energy demands. No government can afford to shirk responsibility and hope to find favour with the people. That would not have been Rajivji’s approach.”
“By energy security, we refer not merely to the assurance of supply of energy but to the assured supply of quality energy at a reasonable price. India’s energy needs, which will increase at the pace of economic development, cannot be met with oil and gas for long,” Singh said. Pointing out that domestic oil production barely met one-third of the country’s requirement, he said India’s energy security strategy should include alternative fuels and technologies. He added that the spiraling oil import bill would put an unbearable burden on the economy and it was important to develop all energy resources — coal, gas, oil, hydro and nuclear along with renewables.
“It is extremely important that our people are made aware of the economics of energy. In our country, we have excessively interfered with energy pricing. Each time our utilities have to raise rates and our oil companies have to raise prices, extraneous considerations come in,” the PM said.
Calling for investment in research and development to make commercial use of solar energy, Singh said: “We also need to examine the potential of hydrogen as a future fuel. Hydroelectric resources too should be optimally utilized to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said an energy-efficient version of the traditional kerosene lamp would be launched by Diwali as part of efforts to meet the country’s rising energy demands. The lamp would be called ‘Nutan Deep’ and run on kerosene but save more than 50 per cent fuel and give better lighting. “This scheme will benefit crores of rural households,” Deora said, adding that the lamps would be supplied at a subsidised price.