Nuclear plants` safety `vitally important`: PM

The tragedy at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan has raised world-wide concerns.

Updated: Mar 30, 2011, 00:09 AM IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said safety of nuclear plants is "vitally important" in the wake of Japan`s Fukushima nuclear crisis and asserted that future reactors in India will have to be certified by the
Indian regulatory authority.

"The tragedy at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant
in Japan has raised world-wide concerns about the safety of
nuclear energy as a source of power. It is vitally important
to address these concerns," he said.

Speaking at a function after conferring Department of
Atomic Energy`s Lifetime Achievement Awards 2009, he said
people have to be convinced about the safety and security of
of India`s nuclear power plants.

"We should bring greater openness and transparency in the
decision making processes relating to our nuclear energy
programme and improve our capacity to respond to the public
desire to be kept informed about decisions and issues that are
of concern to them," he said.

Singh said he would like to see "accountability and
transparency" in the functioning of country`s nuclear power
plants.

Asserting that government would take all necessary
measures to ensure the safety of plants, the Prime Minister
said he has already directed a technical review of all safety
systems of nuclear power plants using the best expertise
available in the country.

"The future reactors that will be built in India will have
to be certified by the Indian regulatory authority and meet
its safety standards. This will apply equally to reactors and
technologies that are imported from abroad," he said.

Singh said the government would strengthen the Atomic
Energy Regulatory Board and make it a truly autonomous and
independent regulatory authority.

"We will ensure that it is of the highest and the best
international standards," he said.

Noting that India`s safety track record of its nuclear
power plants has been "impeccable", the Prime Minister said,
"We cannot be complacent".

In a reference to the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, he
said the decades of nuclear isolation under which country`s
nuclear programme evolved has fortunately ended.

India is now an active participant in international civil
nuclear cooperation, he said adding this has brought with it
new opportunities as well as new responsibilities.

"I have no doubt that the opening of the doors of
international cooperation will help us in our efforts to
enhance our energy security," he said.

For a large and fast growing economy like India, it was
imperative that it tap all sources of energy and diversify its
energy mix, he said adding nuclear energy has the potential of
playing an increasingly important role in giving the country
energy independence from traditional and often polluting
sources of energy.

Singh said on Tuesday India has fully demonstrated its
capabilities in all the scientific and technological aspects
associated with the design, development, construction,
operation and maintenance of nuclear reactors and associated
fuel cycle facilities.

The Prime Minister honoured distinguished scientists --
VK Iya, Prof Obaid Siddiqui, VK Mehta and N Srinivasan, who
was not present as he was indisposed.

PTI