'We are in process of expanding indigenous nuclear power programme': PM

New Delhi, Jan 15 (ANI): Asserting that nuclear energy will remain an essential and increasingly important element of our energy mix, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said India will reach a new milestone soon, as the first nuclear reactor with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam starts operating and with the second reactor to follow later in the current year.

"We are in the process of expanding our indigenous nuclear power programme. We will reach a new milestone soon, as the first nuclear reactor with Russian collaboration at Kudankulam starts operating, with the second reactor to follow later in the current year," Dr. Singh said on the occasion of conferment of Department of Atomic Energy's Lifetime Achievement Awards 2011 here.

"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. I am happy that reviews of all our nuclear power plants have been completed," he said.

"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. Parliament is also examining a Bill to set up a new Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority. We will ensure that the safety and livelihoods of people are not jeopardized in our pursuit of nuclear power," he added.

Dr. Singh further said the Department of Atomic Energy was a vital part of our national efforts that led to adjustment of the global nuclear order and reintegration of India into international nuclear commerce for peaceful purposes.

"I am pleased that it is also closely involved in fostering international science and technology cooperation, including through its participation in mega-science projects such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and the Large Hadron Collider. I wish DAE all success in its multiple endeavours," he added.

Expressing confident that DAE will continue to make valuable contributions to further developing India's capabilities in nuclear energy and related fields, Dr. Singh said: "We should ensure that we continue to attract the best scientific minds among our younger generations to these fields."

"Even more, I hope that our nuclear scientists would continue to be guided by the basic goal of directing scientific activities to bring about an improvement in the quality of life of our people," he added.

Lauding nuclear scientists Dr R Chidambaram, Dr. Singh said: "I am very pleased that Dr R Chidambaram is present here. I would like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to him for guiding India's atomic energy programme with such great distinction."

"His life and work are a source of inspiration for all scientists and technologists in our country," he added.

Dr. Singh also congratulated the four distinguished recipients of the 2011 DAE Lifetime Achievement Award.

" I would like to warmly congratulate K. Balaramamoorthy, Prof. R. Balasubramanian, Dr. R.B. Grover and Dr S.K. Sikka on being conferred the Department of Atomic Energy's Lifetime Achievement Award for the year 2011. Each one of you is truly worthy of this recognition. I am confident that you will serve as beacons of inspiration for our younger generations of scientists and technologists," he said.

"I would also like to thank your families, and in particular your wives, for their sacrifices and the support they have provided to you in your endeavours to promote the nation's well being," he added. (ANI)

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