'India can provide energy security for centuries'

'India can provide energy security for centuries'

N plants do not cause harm, says AEC chief at NITK convocation

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman and Department of Atomic Energy Secretary to Government of India Dr Srikumar Banerjee said that Indian nuclear programme has the potential to provide long term energy security to the country for several centuries to come.

Delivering the convocation address at the ninth convocation of National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK) here on Saturday, he said the Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam, operating with indigenously developed mixed uranium-plutonium carbide fuel, has achieved burn upto 155,000 MWd/tonne.

The prototype Fast Breeder Reactor of 500 MWe capacity is currently under construction at Kalpakkam. The third stage will be based on the thorium-233 U cycle. Timely implementation of this stage is crucial for meeting the increasing carbon-free energy demands in the country.

There has been a debate on the issue of desirability of large scale production of nuclear energy in the country. This debate is on the backdrop of the unfortunate incidence of Fukushima triggered by a large scale natural calamity.

Affirming his stand that nuclear power plants do not cause any harm, he said there are 20 operating power plants in India and there are around 1,400 power plants across the world. Hardly any incidents have occurred so far where nuclear plant has caused damage to the people and environment, he said and added that there is a challenge to deal with the nuclear waste.

Knowledge based economy
Dr Banerjee said there is a need to develop knowledge based economy. Historically, about hundred years of India’s tryst with science and technology can be divided into three sequential phases.

The first one is the ‘nationalistic phase’ starting with the work of J C Bose on microwave around 1888, the second one is the ‘self reliance’ phase beginning with the foundation of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945 by Homi J Bhabha and third one, the ‘globalised phase which began with the liberalisation of Indian economy in 1992.

“There are opportunities abound in the globalised economy. But, we need a new thought, which will convert this country into real powerhouse of innovations. Inclusive growth is a challenge which involves large scale innovations in every sphere of science and technology. The challenge is to transfom from ‘made in India’ economy to ‘designed in India’ economy,” he added.

NITK Board of Governors Chairman Sushil Chandra Tripathi said graduates of today must interact in a global environment, as international corporations are the rule in virtually any sector where engineering technology graduates seek jobs. NITK Director Prof Sandeep Sancheti welcomed the gathering.