While the NSG issue will drag on thanks to China, India’s diplomatic efforts to convince Australia, among others, to supply uranium is bearing fruit.
The Cabinet’s move clearing an ambitious plan to build 10 indigenous nuclear power reactors sends out a clear signal that India will pursue its own technology to boost clean nuclear energy in power generation. A week ago, despite trouble with American suppliers over liability issues and French suppliers over pricing, it was warning Russia, the nation’s biggest supplier of nuclear power generation technology and equipment, to do more to convince China that India, as a peaceful nuclear power user, must find a place in the NSG. Making nuclear power contribute 20 per cent to the national grid is complicated: it is subject to placing willing sources for supply of not just standard nuclear fuel but also plutonium for a potential thorium programme.
Nuclear power generation issues have led to quite a few controversies, given misgivings among many who live near power plants, besides compensation in the unlikely but fearful event of a nuclear accident. But there must be a prominent place for nuclear energy in India’s mix of power sources, given that modern technology has proved its efficacy in sustaining a capacity factor of 80 per cent at the highest operational safety. While the NSG issue will drag on thanks to China, India’s diplomatic efforts to convince Australia, among others, to supply uranium is bearing fruit.
Coal generation is trammelled by technology issues, with dependence on imported coal as a cleaner source than our vast domestic reserves. It is amid these difficulties that the government has adopted a positive policy thrust, which might just ease the path as the dark clouds of environmental issues are gathering.