We got into nuclear engagement with US in 2008 but from 2008 to 2014 we have seen a hiatus... now we are into missile technology regime... The amount of progress done in the last two years is pronounced... we are poised to enter into the nuclear age in a big way," Power, Coal and Mines Minister Goyal said at Infocom 2016 here.
Goyal said the country is looking at "ramping up its clean energy source significantly" without compromising on safety of people and the government would ensure that power from this source is affordable. "We will never compromise on safety of our people... we will ensure power is affordable... with these two caveats we are very keen to promote nuclear energy in a big way. we are able to get uranium supplies," the minister said.
He added the country is close to setting a technology framework and is very close to getting into the nuclear suppliers group. At the same time he said there was need to do away with fear psychosis and cited example that Kerala does not permit any nuclear station while in Jaitapur in Maharashtra there is an agitation going on. India at present has a nuclear power capacity of about 6,000 MW. Goyal said the country has significant resources of thorium in the southern coastline of Tamil Nadu but the technology is still not tested and tried.
He expressed hope that the technology would soon be proven so that the indigenous raw material, important for country's energy security could be utilised fully. He added that hydro-power is one sector which is also government's focus area and Finance Minister Arun Jaitely has convened a meeting on Friday to discuss the hydro power sector. Goyal said four or five ministers besides officials will be present in the meeting.
Meanwhi,, France has given a fresh techno-commercial proposal for building six atomic reactors in Jaitapur even as it again raised concerns over India's civil liability law and sought "same level of protection" which are available for companies at the international level.
An Electricite de France (EDF) team, comprising senior officials, is currently holding talks with the Ministry of External Affairs and Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIl) on setting up of these plants. "We have raised our concerns over the liability issue.
France is a party to Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. We want similar binding conditions in the Jaitapur contract. All these steps will help us bring nuclear industry players from France to India. The delegation has asked to provide same level of protection to the EDF which is available at the international level," said a top EDF official.
"We have also given a fresh techno-commercial proposal to NPCIL. It's now up to the NPCIL to decide," the official added. The proposal includes negotiating with India for six reactors as against two, which was the case earlier. This would help bring down the cost. It also includes a proposal for localisation of technology to make the project cost effective. The EDF has raised concern over various clauses dealing with the Right to Recourse under the Civil
Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act 2010. Though the French side still has some concerns over the impact of India's liability law, they acknowledged the Indian government has taken several steps to assuage those through initiatives like formation of Nuclear Insurance Pool.