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(Rptg with corrections in opening para)

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 6: The Indo-US nuclear accord has largely been hailed by experts and diplomats as a major step forward for India in its quest for clean energy, though there are also suggestions that the deal has been overhyped disregarding its ramifications as it marks a paradigm shift in the relation between the two countries.

Well-known career diplomat Chinmaya R Garekhan feels the Indian negotiators have done a wonderful job and taken care of the country's interests, managing to shed off the ''cold war mindest.'' ''Now we will be able to import nuclear material and equipment not only from the United States but also from other countries like France, Russia and Japan. The country has a wide choice of market now,'' he said talking to UNI.

Mr Garekhan feels that there is an unnecessary scare about the country putting itself to international safegurds. ''We should not be scared of safeguards so long as they don't tend to compromise with our strategic interests.'' By clinching the deal, the country has now made an addition to its energy mix without in anyway affecting its efforts to get fossil fuels.

By 2025-30 India will be short of 50,000 MW of power, so addition of nuclear energy is important.

''Of course alongside the nuclear energy, we have to pursue the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project too, as hydrocarbons are and will be indispensible for the country's need, but it has to be kept in mind that the economics of gas pipeline is not yet fully established,'' he said.

However, sources in the Petroleum Ministry while accepting the utility of the deal for India, do not rate it as advantageous an achievement as ''it was made out to be''.

''Nuclear deal is not a magic wand that will solve all of the country's energy problems. Atomic power will fulfill only 15 to 20 per cent of the country's need by 2050, a highly placed source told UNI.

There are many issues like safety of plants, disposal of nuclear waste, maintaining sustained supplies of raw material and access to technology that are to be taken care of, he said.

The US and Japan themselves have not established any nuclear plant in the last 20 to 30 years, he pointed out.

Foreign relations scholar at the JNU School of International Studies Girijesh Pant also feels that though nuclear energy is important for India, the hype was unnecessary.

''Besides the nuclear deal, there are other signals from the visit of US President George W Bush that might change the way India is seen by Third world countries,'' he added.


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