“We cannot afford to miss the bus,’’ said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, far away from the din in Parliament.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose the coastal birthplace of India’s nuclear power programme to speak a “few simple truths” about boarding the world’s nuclear renaissance or missing the bus. “We do not enjoy the luxury of an either-or choice. India needs energy from all known and likely sources,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister was addressing the scientists and engineers who have built India’s first nuclear power plants in the late ’60s and designed India’s latest, costliest and largest twin 540 MW plants at Tarapur (about 100 km off Mumbai), which he dedicated to the nation.
However, he did not mention the 123 agreement or directly refer to the debate with the Left over the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.
Nevertheless, the message couldn’t have been more clear. And the platform too, was an apt one to reiterate the government’s stance by linking the removal of “iniquitous shackles” with India’s energy needs, security, economic growth and national interest.
“We need to pave the way for India to benefit from nuclear commerce without restrictions…we need to supplement our uranium resources from elsewhere…we must take decisive steps to avoid disruptions in nuclear power production,’’ he said.
Significantly, he emphasised that the cooperation will not be dependent on any one country. “We will source supplies from many countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) including the US, Russia, France and Japan.’’
Singh also made a strong case for entering negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which the Left opposes. “Our international cooperation cannot become effective until the NSG adapts its guidelines to enable nuclear commerce with India. The NSG has made it clear that they will not do so till the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA is finalised.’’
Maharashtra holds India’s largest cluster of nuclear power plants, and the Tarapur 540 MW reactor designs will be modified for future 700
MW indigenous reactors. India’s target nuclear power generation is 20,000 MW by 2020.