Scientist behind India’s first N-test passes away

Former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman and the guiding force behind India`s first nuclear test, Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, died at his Malabar Hills residence here after a prolonged illness, family members said.

Last Updated: Sep 07, 2010, 00:45 AM IST

Mumbai: Former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
chairman and the guiding force behind India`s first nuclear
test, Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, died at his Malabar Hills
residence here after a prolonged illness, family members said.

He was 86 and is survived by a daughter and son.

Sethna passed away last night at around 11.15 pm. His
funeral will take place tomorrow at Doongerwadi Tower of
Silence.

Sethna, a nuclear scientist and chemical engineer, was
responsible for setting up of India`s first plutonium plant at
Trombay in 1959. He was also the director of Indian Rare Earth
in Kerala before moving to Mumbai.

He retired as AEC Chairman in 1984 and served as chairman
of Tata Power from 1989-2000. He also was a director in the
Board of Tata Sons, Bombay Dyeing and few more companies.
An energetic engineer and a quick decision maker, Sethna,
the then AEC chairman, was the guiding force behind the first
peaceful nuclear explosion project `Smiling Buddha` at Pokhran
on May 18, 1974.

He was a recipient of the country`s second highest
civilian award -- Padma Vibhushan.

The Uranium Mill at Jaduguda in Bihar was also set up
under his guidance in 1967. He was also the Project Manager of
40 MW Canada-India Reactor (CIRUS) in 1956-58.

"Sethna was a good and energetic engineer, always willing
to take risks and built India`s first re-processing plant in
Trombay. He had a dare devil attitude and never waited for
bureaucratic processes to get the establishment work done," P
K Iyengar, former AEC chairman, said.

-PTI