India to expand indigenous nuclear power programme: PM

New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) Stating that nuclear energy will remain an increasingly important element of the nation's energy mix, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that India was in the process of expanding its indigenous nuclear power programme.

Addressing a gathering at the conferment of Department of Atomic Energy's Lifetime Achievement Awards 2011 here, Manmohan Singh said the government will ensure that the safety and livelihood of people were not affected in pursuit of nuclear power.

"As we pursue our national growth objectives to meet the rising aspirations of our people, the supply of affordable clean energy will be one of our foremost national challenges and a key priority for our government," he said.

"Nuclear energy will remain an essential and increasingly important element of our energy mix. We are in the process of expanding our indigenous nuclear power programme."

The prime minister said the first nuclear reactor with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu would start operating soon and the second reactor would follow by year-end.

"Even as we implement our power programme, we will continue to ensure that nuclear power remains wholly safe. The Fukushima incident in 2011 raised justifiable safety concerns about nuclear power," he said.

"I am happy that reviews of all our nuclear power plants have been completed. Our cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency has been enhanced, and the first Operational Safety Review Team recently visited the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station," he said.

He said parliament was also examining a bill to set up a new Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority.

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