Indian nuclear scientist Homi Sethna dead (Lead)

September 6th, 2010 - 11:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Sep 6 (IANS) Renowned nuclear technocrat and scientist Homi N. Sethna died at his home here late Sunday, official sources said Monday.
A former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Sethna was 86. He is survived by a daughter Meher Dadabhoy and son Rustam.

Sethna, ailing for some time, breathed his last at his Malabar Hill residence. His funeral will take place Tuesday at the Doongerwadi Tower of Silence.

An eminent chemical engineer, Sethna made vital contributions to nuclear materials development and production over the entire nuclear fuel cycle.

After obtaining his B.SC (Tech) from the Department of Chemical Technology of Bombay University in 1944, he did his masters from University of Michigan in 1946.

He returned to India in 1949 and joined the AEC after working with Imperial Chemical Industries in the United Kingdom.

His first assignment was the construction of a plant for the extraction of rare earths from Kerala in 1952, followed by a plant for producing pure thorium nitrate at Trombay in 1955. The commissioning of the uranium metal plant in 1959 and plutonium plant in 1964 at Trombay and Jaduguda uranium mill in 1966 were very creditable achievements that followed in quick succession.

Sethna was the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) during 1966-72, when the plan for the construction of India’s largest research reactor, Dhruva was conceived.

During his tenure as the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (1972-83), the nuclear experiment at Pokhran was successful carried out May 1974 in the Rajasthan desert. Sethna steered the country’s atomic energy programme through the difficult period of late 1970s and early 1980s.

Decorated with the second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, Sethna later served the corporate world as director with several companies including the Tata Group.

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