India to undertake massive uranium exploration: Kakodkar

May 12th, 2008 - 12:30 am ICT by admin  

Mumbai, May 11 (IANS) India is making large-scale investments in uranium exploration, helping reduce its dependence on the fate of its nuclear deal with the US to meet energy needs, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Anil Kakodkar indicated here Sunday. “We are making massive investment in uranium exploration and if we hit a huge find then the problem is over,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) here to mark the 10th anniversary of the Pokhran-II nuclear tests.

He said India had already discussed the deal with other countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Now the rest of the decision is not technical,” said Kakodkar, pointing out that the matter was now before the political leadership.

The “problem” referred to by Kakodkar, who is also the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) secretary, was the imperative to wrap up the deal as it would fall short of uranium supply for its power reactors in the face of the international ban on nuclear commerce with any non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Indo-US nuclear deal is in limbo, with the Congress-led government’s Left allies opposed to signing a bilateral pact with US.

“We are undertaking a massive uranium exploration programme, which would of the order of Rs.600-700 crore (Rs.6-7 billion),” Kakodkar said.

The department has already mapped out areas in Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan for exploration. “We are preparing in all respects, if we are lucky enough we would find uranium,” he said.

Kakodkar said India should work out strategies to “bridge the gap” between demand and production of power “without compromising on our autonomy to pursue our own development as planned both in strategic as well as three-stage programmes”.

“With our thorium resources we will be immunizing our energy security from global shortages and price escalations that are bound to hit us sooner than later,” he said.

Incidentally, Kakodkar considered as feasible the set target of 20,000 MW of power from nuclear energy by 2020. “From the domestic uranium that we have, he have set a target of production of 10,000 MW from Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), and we feel that we would be able to achieve that.”

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