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Kakodkar defends Indo-US nuke-deal

If the Indo-US nuclear deal does not go through, India will have to slash at least 6,000 MW from its projected 20,000 MW by 2020, says Anil Kakodkar.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
UPDATED ON OCT 30, 2007 10:04 PM IST

If the Indo-US nuclear deal does not go through, India will have to slash at least 6,000 MW from its projected 20,000 MW by 2020 in the absence of international civilian nuclear cooperation, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar said in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Replying to a query whether the Department of Atomic Energy's projected nuclear power capacity of 20,000 MW will be scaled down if the Indo-US deal does not come through with the current uncertainties, Kakodkar said, "definitely yes. By at least 6000 MW."

"It is possible to realise DAE's projected 20,000 MW by 2020 only if there is international civil nuclear cooperation," Kakodkar told the media on the sidelines of the 98th Founder's celebration of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

In mid 1990s, DAE had projected an ambitious programme 20,000 MW keeping in mind 10,000 MW from Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor programme, 2500 MW from Fast Breeder reactors and 8,000 MW from imported Light Water Reactors (especially from Russia).

Even at that time (mid 1990s), 8000 MW was planned from the Russian nuclear cooperation. But although Russians are still interested in giving that much, unless the current international politics is set right, it may not be possible, Kakodkar said.

Kakodkar said "it is important to set the international politics right to enhance the international cooperation in nuclear power programmes. This has to be carried out through diplomatic channels, he said.

Asked whether India could get fuel from any non-nuclear suppliers' group countries, he said "yes, we can but we have to set right the international politics first."

Delivering the founder's day speech, Kakodkar said Homi Bhabha himself was in favour of import of reactors and used the external cooperation to leap frog to realise enhancement of domestic capability.

"Self reliance did not mean isolating ourselves but rather keeping several options including `do-it-yourself' option at hand so that the country is not subject to vulnerabilities of any kind," Kakodkar said.

Talking about the uranium exploration programme, he said "our current challenge is to augment uranium production to match the needs of operating power reactors."

Opening of new mines is a time-consuming, he added. And efforts of last six to seven years have resulted in opening of new mines at Turamdih in Jharkhand and Banduhurang in Andhra Pradesh and starting of a new uranium processing mill at Turamdih.

"With the deliveries of uranium from Turamdih the situation will start easing. Construction of a new mine and mill at Tummalapalli in Andhra Pradesh has been approved by the Union government and is about to start, Kakodkar said.

"We also hope to be able to take up uranium projects in Meghalaya and Karnataka to be followed by projects in Rajasthan and other places. Most of these deposits have been known for a long time," he said.

Once India is comfortable with uranium, "we may exceed our PHWR programme beyond 10,000 MW," he said.

He said "Indian nuclear power industry would not have faced the present mismatch of fuel had these projects been pursued in the same spirit with which Dr Homi Bhabha had started activities at Jaduguda in 1950s.

"We are determined to move ahead with the growth of our PHWR programme and realise the planned 10,000 MW capacity in the shortest possible time," he said.

Kakodkar also said that "at this stage our uranium exploration programme has seen a paradigm shift in terms of far greater mobilisation of resources and technologies and we should not rule out a PHWR capacity much larger than 10,000 MW should we be successful in finding more uranium."

"Given the capability of our geologists and the unprecedented programme thrust, I see no reason why this should not happen," he said.

Talking about energy from vast thorium reserves, he said, "the nuclear properties of thorium, while would permit sustaining a given power generation capacity to make full use of energy from thorium reserves, do not permit growth in power generation capacity.

"Large scale deployment of thorium has thus to wait enhancement of power generation capacity through fast breeder reactors to a requisite level," he said, adding "this is not a matter of reactor technology choice but inherent nuclear properties of thorium."

India's efforts at international civil nuclear cooperation have to be seen in this background, Kakodkar said.

"We have insisted and would continue to insist that such cooperation cannot be allowed to hinder our strategic programme as well as our three stage programme. But we must recognise the long term benefit of such energy resource as additionality from the international cooperation in light of gaps in our future energy resource availability, he said.

Kakodkar also mentioned that in the human resource expansion programme of DAE, it will have to be working with other external agencies and the team spirit which prevails in BARC and other DAE units should continue to strengthen the country's expanded programmes for conscious timely deliverables.

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