Kalam praises Vajpayee as a visionary leader

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Mumbai, May 11 (UNI) Former President A P J Abdul Kalam today showered praise on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during whose tenure 'Pokhran II' nuclear tests were conducted, describing him as a visionary leader.

''A leader must have a vision and courage to take decisions and Mr Vajpayee gave us go ahead signal within a week in 1998 for the nuclear programme'', said the former president, who was the main architect of Pokhran II.

He stressed the need for solar, wind, bio fuel and nuclear energy to be used to for all round development fo the country, with both rural and urban India getting its due share.

Speaking at a function to celebrate national technology day at the Bhabha Atomic reserach centre here, Kalam said present nuclear energy capacity of the country of 3009 MW is expected to reach 7000 MW by 2012 and 24,000 MW by 2020. ''We need more uranium to achieve 50,000 MW target by 2030'', he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr R Chidambaram, principal scientific advisor to the government of India, said national development and security are the two sides of the same coin and development without security and security without development were vulnerable.

Dr Chidambaram said ''I always tell my US counterparts that we need you for a short term but you are going to need us in the long term''.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Dr Anil Kakodkar said the country needed huge electricity as there was a significant gap that needs to be bridged in this sector. ''Without thorium resources, we will be immunising out energy security from global shortages and price escalations are bound to hit sooner than later,'' he said.

''Alongwith nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, food water and health are other sectors, where we make large scale contributions.

Our mandate is to do everything in atomic energy for the welfare of our people,'' he added.

On the occasion, Dr Kalam was given a Bonsoi, having a small banyan tree under which a 'smiling Buddha' is sitting. It may be recalled 'Buddha has smiled again' was the code word used after the successful Pokhran tests, 10 years back.

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