N-deal is about energy security, needed to rid poverty: PM

July 22nd, 2008 - 11:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday asserted that the India-US civil nuclear agreement is about energy security and necessary to get rid of chronic poverty. In his reply to the debate on the motion of confidence in the Lok Sabha, Manmohan Singh strongly defended the nuclear deal as the best bet for India.

“What is the nuclear agreement about? It is all about widening our development options, promoting energy security in a manner which will not hurt our precious environment and which will not contribute to pollution and global warming,” he said in the speech tabled in the house as it could not be read out amid slogan shouting from the opposition benches.

Linking energy security to poverty alleviation, Manmohan Singh said: “India needs to grow at the rate of at least 10 percent per annum to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of our people”.

He said that a “basic requirement” for growth is the “availability of energy, particularly electricity”.

“We need increasing quantities of electricity to support our agriculture, industry and to give comfort to our householders,” said Manmohan Singh, adding that the electricity generation has to grow at an annual rate of eight to 10 percent.

He pointed out that India’s production of hydrocarbons was far short of demand, thereby making the country dependent on imports. “We all know the uncertainty of supplies and of prices of imported hydrocarbons.”

Urging the diversification of energy supply, the prime minister pointed out that not only India’s energy needs cannot be met by its coal reserve, it would also adversely impact the climate.

Among other options, he said India could develop hydropower, “but many of these projects hurt the environment and displace large number of people”.

The prime minister said that India must now make “full use” of atomic energy, describing it as a “clean environment friendly source of energy”.

“All over the world, there is growing realization of the importance of atomic energy to meet the challenge of energy security and climate change,” he said.

While applauding Indian nuclear engineers as “world class”, Manmohan Singh admitted that nuclear energy programme had suffered due to the imposition of over 30 years of sanctions after the first nuclear test in 1974.

“Some 20 twenty years ago, the Atomic Energy Commission had laid down a target of 10,000 MW of electricity generation by the end of the 20th century. Today, in 2008 our capacity is about 4,000 MW and due to shortage of uranium many of these plants are operating at much below their capacity,” he said.

The nuclear agreement, said the prime minister, will end India’s nuclear isolation, nuclear apartheid and enable us to take advantage of international trade in nuclear materials, technologies and equipment.

He said the nuclear agreement will open up new opportunities for trade in dual use high technologies opening up new pathways to accelerate industrialization of our country.

“Given the excellent quality of our nuclear scientists and technologists, I have reasons to believe that in a reasonably short period of time, India would emerge as an important exporter of nuclear technologies, and equipment for civilian purposes,” he said.

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