Vadodara: Former Atomic Energy Commission of India chairman Anil Kakodkar has said the country should accelerate its nuclear energy production programme by taking advantage of the civil nuclear deal it has struck with Australia last year.
"As the nuclear commerce is opened up for us on our terms and without affecting our strategic autonomy or our decision-making power, why not we accelerate our nuclear programme by importing uranium which was a constraint so far?," he said.
Kakodkar was in Anand yesterday to address a gathering of a school run by the Charotar Education Society on the occasion of its centenary year.
Observing that the country would benefit from the uranium deal with Australia, Kakodkar said, "Importing uranium from Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia will accelerate electricity production from nuclear reactors even as our three-stage programme is going on...So the atmosphere changed and the world is now ready to do nuclear commerce with India."
India and Australia had last year signed a landmark civil nuclear deal, clearing the way for Canberra to sell uranium to the energy-starved country for power generation.
"Australia can play the role of a long-term reliable supplier of uranium to India," Kakodkar said, adding that uranium mines in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand lack sufficient reserves for India's expanded civil nuclear programme.
"Once import starts, it would ease the supply constraint on uranium, the short supply of which has been choking the functioning of the existing network of nuclear reactors across the country. India's civilian nuclear industry is growing and over the next decade, the global demand for nuclear power is set to grow substantially," the nuclear scientist said.
Kakodkar said the importance of nuclear energy will grow with time and it will form an inevitable part of the energy mix for the country.
"Given ten to twelve fold increase in our electricity generation, which is necessary to support our economic growth and issues of energy resource sustainability and global climate change staring at us, the importance of nuclear energy will only grow with time," he said.
Kakodkar said the three-stage nuclear power programme and the philosophy of self reliance are the two most important legacies of Homi Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear research programme.
"These legacies are based on the ground realities of modest uranium and vast thorium reserves that exist in India as well as the very sensitive nature of nuclear technology," he added.