Advanced Heavy Water Reactor likely to be functional by 2020

New Delhi; The indigenously-developed Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) is likely to be functional by 2020, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh said the nuclear reactor is being developed indigenously. It is expected to be functional by 2020 or one or two years more thereafter, he said during Question Hour.

The reactor is being developed by Bhaba Atomic Research Centre.

Singh also said the reactor would help in ensuring optimal use of thorium. India has one of the largest sources of thorium resources which is a matter of pride, he said.

"Till October, 2014, AMD has established 2,14,158 tonnes in-situ U3O8 (1,81,606 tonnes uranium) resources and 11.93 million tonnes of in-situ resources of monazite resources, which contains about 1.07 million tonnes of Thorium Oxide (ThO2)," he said.

Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) is part of Department of Atomic Energy.

According to the Minister, four districts in Chattisgarh have been identified for possible exploration of uranium.

Besides, the country also has rich sources of monazite.

In the current Five Year Plan period (2012-17), the target is to explore 5,000 sq km for radioactive minerals and out of that, about 750 sq km have already been completed.

There has been 25 percent increase in overall uranium and monazite resources worldwide, including India, over the last ten years. Under rules of the Atomic Energy Act, every person who discovers uranium or thorium occurring in any place in India should report the same to the central government within three months of discovering it.

Besides for mining of such minerals, entities have to get a licence.

To another query, Singh said no international treaty has been signed for strategic and commercial use of radioactive elements.

"However, there exists bilateral agreements for Civil Nuclear Cooperation with certain countries for peaceful use of nuclear energy," he noted.