The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that India has vindicated the vision of the founding father of country’s Nuclear Energy Programme, Dr Homi J. Bhabha, when he had said that India’s nuclear programme will be used for peaceful purposes. Delivering the inaugural address at the 10th Nuclear Energy Conclave here today, he said that the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Government has focussed on non-power applications of nuclear energy. The same principle has been promoted in other departments also such as Department of Space where use of space technology is being encouraged for the benefit of common man.
Dr Singh said that the Cabinet has given its approval for construction of 10 units of India’s indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). This significant decision has been taken to fast-track India’s domestic nuclear power programme, and give a push to country’s nuclear industry, he added. Speaking about other initiatives, he said that the Government has amended sections of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 through the Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which would enable Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to form joint venture companies with other Indian PSUs to meet the additional funding requirements for further expansion of our nuclear power programme. The Minister said that previously the atomic energy programme was confined mostly in Southern India, but now an atomic plant is in the process of being set up in Gorakhpur, Haryana near Delhi, which indicates the expansion of nuclear programme in other parts of country, he added. He also informed the audience about the “Hall of Nuclear Power”- India’s first permanent exhibition on nuclear power, has been built in the national capital. This helps the students and the younger generation to understand the basics of nuclear energy, the Minister said.
While delivering his keynote address, the Chairman AEC and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Dr K N Vyas said that organising such conclaves has wide ranging benefits in understanding the benefits and allying any fears about nuclear energy. He spoke about the benefits of nuclear energy for power and non-power applications. Elaborating on non-power applications, he said that nuclear agriculture developed with the cooperation of agriculture universities and ICAR is one such example, others being nuclear medicine, low cost solution for water purification, urban waste management and food preservation programme, etc. Dr Vyas said we need a paradigm shift in power policy of our country for climate change mitigation and meeting the increasing need for power. He announced that the Kaiga Atomic Power Station (KAPS) has set a new world record among pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) with one of its units operating uninterrupted for 895 days as of today. The AEC Chairman said that at present, there are nine (9) nuclear power reactors at various stages of construction in India and twelve (12) more nuclear power reactors have been accorded administrative approval.
Speaking about the utility of nuclear energy, the President, Indian Energy Forum (IEF) and former Secretary, Ministry of Power, Shri Anil Razdan, said that earth temperature has to be brought down as per Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and this is possible essentially by de-carbonising the energy resources. He added that energy resources are very important as GDP is directly related to them. Shri Razdan said that per capita energy consumption in the country needs to be enhanced, but it has to be as clean as possible. He also spoke about the benefits of radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. He elaborated on the use of nuclear energy for ‘Clean India Mission’ and other areas like food irradiation.
During his address, the Chairman, Nuclear Energy Group, India Energy Forum and Chancellor Homi Bhabha National Institute and former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, compared the features of nuclear energy and other sources of renewable energy. Both are complementary to each other, he added. Dr Banerjee said that the real challenge is to bring down the cost of nuclear energy during the gestation period. He said presently the share of nuclear energy in India is just 3%, as compared to global average of about 10% and this needs to be improved.
Prof. Raman Srikant, Professor and Head, Energy and Environment Programme, National Institute of Advance Studies delivered special address on the topic ‘Primary Energy Sources: Nuclear and Solar’. He said although the share of renewable energy is growing, still about 75% of energy is coming from coal. Prof. Srikant said to ensure the integrity, security and reliability of the Grid as well as demand-supply match, a combination of Renewable energy and conventional sources of electricity are required.
The roundtable on “Growth of Nuclear Power: Fleet Mode Implementation” chaired by the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), NPCIL, Shri S K Sharma, is another highlight of the conclave. During the conclave, two sessions titled ‘Nuclear Energy Applications in Medical and Agriculture’ and ‘Long term perspective of Nuclear Power’ were chaired by Shri S A Bhadwaj, Chairman, AERB and Dr S Banerjee, former Chairman, AEC respectively.The eminent scholars in the field of nuclear energy & medicine and foreign delegates also attended the conclave.