India stands on threshold of new era: AEC chief

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Mumbai, Oct 30 (UNI) Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Anil Kakodkar today said India stands at the threshold of a new era, where it would accelerate the deployment of nuclear power and also push the frontiers of nuclear technology with an eye on the future.

Speaking at the Foundation Day of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay here this morning, Dr Kakodkar said despite the technological success in the first and second stage of India's nuclear programme, the power deficit would still be there.

He, however, said, ''The opening up of the international civil nuclear cooperation in fact would enable us to enlarge the first stage of our programme to a level that could enable us to reach a level of energy independence before it is too late.'' Emphasising the fact that India should continue to pursue its three-stage development programme, R &D and strategic programme in an autonomous manner, the AEC Chairman said, ''While sufficient in-built precautions have been ensured to prevent any external constraint on our autonomous development, we need to make rapid progress in our domestic development without any laxity.'' While praising the international collaborations in the field of research, Dr Kakodkar said, ''Such collaborations enable us to access major international facilities for research and at the same time, bring in technological benefits for our laboratories and industries.

Our participation in such activities has brought us international recognition.'' He, however, said, ''We should ensure complete complementarities between our domestic programme and international collaboration.'' Highlighting the urgency to develop technologies to reduce radiotoxicity of radioactive waste in view of large-scale deployment of nuclear power, the AEC Chairman said based on the present day knowledge, it was possible to bring the radiotoxicity to a level ''comparable to a uranium mine in a period of say around 300 years''.

The BARC celebrated the birth centenary year of Dr Homi Bhabha, who gave a vision for Atomic Energy Programme in the country. The year-long Homi Bhabha Centenary Year celebrations were inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh through video conferencing this evening.

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