Montek favours private participation in nuclear energy generation

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New Delhi, Sep 19 (UNI) Against the backdrop of the Full Planning Commission meeting tomorrow, the Commission's Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today said the country needed a comprehensive energy policy to ensure long-term sustainable growth, the only agenda of the event.

Talking to newspersons here, Dr Ahluwalia said for this purspose it has called a meeting of the full commission so as to lead the country towards a policy which is free from aberrations that could distort growth of the sector.

Dr Ahluwalia said with this purpose in mind, the Commission has called even the Ministers, like Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who are not members of the Commission as well as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodar.

He said energy security attains paramount importance, especially when the country has proven its track record of having developed potential for sustainable growth.

He said once consensus has been reached on the integrated energy policy, the government can move forward for seeking Cabinet approval.

Dr Ahluwalia said different approaches relating to various energy sectors with regard to both pricing and subsidy were coming in the way of long-term growth of the sector.

The Commission, through this draft policy report, has suggested opening of the coal sector for private investment. Captive generation should have option to sell surplus coal to the public sector and overseas acquisitions in the sector needed to be encouraged.

On nuclear energy, Dr Ahluwalia said domestically available uranium can help in generating only 2,00,000 mega watts of power by the year 2050 and if uranium imports are resorted to now, the same capacity through the use of thorium in third phase would create a capacity generation of 6,00,000 mega watts.

Strongly supporting private participation in the nuclear energy generation, he said since strategic use of nuclear energy was being segregated, ''where is the harm in allowing private sector in the development of civilian generation of nuclear energy.'' He said if consensus is reached at the meet, then the government would need to move fast for enacting needed changes in the law.

He said variable subsidies were creating distortions to the level that taxes on private transport in some cases were less than on public transport.

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