Indian N-power push to slow down post-Fukushima disaster: US

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Washington, April 27: Indian efforts to boost energy production by pushing for civilian nuclear power in a big way is likely to slow down in the aftermath of the nuclear accident at the quake-stricken Fukushima reactor in Japan, a top US official has said.

"I think there probably realistically will be a little bit of a slowdown, but I agree with what the (Indian) Prime Minister said, that this is still very much in India's interest to proceed with these projects and it is likely to do so," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told the Knowledge at Wharton in an interview.

"What's most important from our perspective is that the two governments have done almost all that we need to do to allow the companies to then make the decisions about whether they want to go forward with this or not," he said.

"In India's case, it signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation and is now committed to ratifying that within a year from November. As far as we know, that remains on track and that remains their intention," he said.

"Then at that point it will be up to the companies to undertake these contract negotiations and of course they will make their own decisions about this and I think what's happened in Japan will affect those to a certain extent. But it's hard for me, I'm not really an expert to gauge to what extent that will happen," he said.

From India's perspective, he said, they have a strong interest in diversifying their energy supplies and to access clean energies as much as possible.

Not just renewables, but also nuclear energy. So again, there's a very strong upside for India as well, he argued.

"But there will have to be a good, honest discussion about the safety issues. I know you have such an open society in India already that in a way that debate is already happening. There have been demonstrations in several of the nuclear plants, and I know that the Lok Sabha and others will be looking closely at this issue," Blake said.

"Again, that's a good thing. That's what should happen after a calamity like this, is that people take a hard look so that in fact what we're doing makes sense and is in our interest," he said.

PTI

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