Atomic energy production using thorium formulated

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) The government today said that it has taken a number of steps to develop appropriate technologies for the utilisation of thorium to tap the two lakh Giga Watt a year of potential electricity using this raw material found in abundance in the coastal regions of the country.

The country has formulated a three stage nuclear power programme to optimally use its modest uranium and vast thorium resources, Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

''Large scale thorium utilisation is contemplated in the third stage of this programme, where Uranium-233 bred in fast breeder reactors of the second stage will be used together with thorium,'' Mr Chavan said.

The government has set up research reactor at Kamini at Kalpakkam using Uranium-233 fuel obtained from irradiated thorium. The reactor has been operating since 1997. He said the fuel for the reactor is bred, reprocessed and fabricated indegenously.

Irradiation of thorium fuel bundles in research reactor at Trombay and in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) has been carried out.

Mr Chavan said the design and development of Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) using thorium based fuel will serve as a technology demonstrator.

The Minister said the government is examining all possibilities of accessing Uranium with potential global partners. However it is a fact that some organisations and locals are protesting against mining of uranium by Uranium Corporation of India, Jharkand and several other states.

He said land is being acquired through concerned state government authorities and compensation for the same is being paid as per the rate fixed by them.

Answering another question, Mr Chavan said the 11th plan proposals envisage start of work on two indigenous reactors of 700 MWe at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan.

''The start of work depends on establishment of fuel linkages,'' Mr Chavan said.

UNI RT BJR RS1529

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