THE time for private participation in the nuclear-power sector seems to have arrived. Hear the knock? C.N.R. Rao, head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the PM, has sought reforms in existing regulations to allow the private sector in the field of nuclear power. He wants the government to build a consensus on the issue.
In the US, ambassador Ronen Sen has said that India needs commercial investments in the nuclear sector -- Indian investments and private foreign investment. Therefore, the eagerness to see the nuclear deal go through.
In his reaction to the approach paper for 11th Five Year Plan, Rao said the rapid expansion of the nuclear-power programme would help in improving the situation of the country's energy sector. "Rapid expansion of the nuclear-power programme would also greatly benefit from the private sector joining hands with the public-sector Nuclear Power Corporation."
Rao's suggestion has evoked a strong reaction in the government as officers say allowing private participation in the field of nuclear energy will give rise to questions about safety and safeguarding the national interest. "We've to see whether such a proposal is feasible under the present regulations," said a government official.
Sen, on a visit to North Carolina's famed Research Triangle area, said India did not need any nuclear technology from abroad, all it was looking for was commercial investments to give a push to its civilian nuclear-energy programme.
The ambassador sought to make it clear that India's strategic-weapons programme would continue regardless of the US-India nuclear deal that is awaiting approval by US Senate.
Asked in a radio interview why India needed the deal, Sen said it was basically to help meet the country's energy requirements and had nothing to do with security, proliferation or arms control.
"In terms of nuclear fuel cycle activities, we were one of the first countries in the world to develop nuclear capabilities," he said. "So we don't need any particular technology." He said a lot of people seemed to be unaware of the fact that India set up a reactor on its own much before China or Japan.
"What we need is commercial investments -- that is, Indian investment in the nuclear-energy sector and private foreign investment," he said.