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Dr Anil Kakodkar rules out FDI in nuclear plants

India’s atomic energy chief Dr Anil Kakodkar has ruled out Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the nuclear power plants but said there are no restrictions for the private sector to carry out manufacturing of nuke equipment and construction.

“FDI in Indian nuclear power plants is not envisaged,” said Kakodkar, the Chairman of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC), when asked if there are any plans in this regard after India came out of its 34-year nuclear isolation.

Kakodkar’s comments came close on the heels of Economic Survey making a pitch for greater private participation even in the sensitive sector of nuclear power generation. The Survey called for allowing up to 49 per cent FDI in nuclear power and amending the Atomic Energy Act to allow private companies in the sector.

In an interview to Asian Nuclear Energy, a portal dedicated to nuclear commerce, he said India’s capability to independently design and build thorium-based Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) will make the country a global technological leader in this crucial area in the future.

The small-sized Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), which this country is capable of building, have considerable demand in developing nations, said Kakodkar, who is also Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

Nuclear commerce in India has always been legitimate, he said, adding, India is well known for its responsible behaviour in conducting its nuclear business.

Kakodkar also said negotiations are already in progress with vendors from France, Russia and USA for setting up nuclear parks in different States across the country, each expected to provide for six to eight reactors of 1,000-1,650 MW.

India’s three-stage nuclear energy programme comprises building uranium-fuelled Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), development of Fast Breeder Reactor (FBRs) and an advanced nuclear power system based on Thorium-Uranium-fuelled reactors.

“With nuclear energy likely to become centre stage, FBRs are expected to be in considerable demand in future. With India having taken the lead in this crucial area, we could very well be the technological leaders worldwide,” Kakodkar said, adding the same thing could happen in the context of thorium systems a little later.

Kakodkar also believed that India’s nuclear power generation programme, which offers immense potential for technology and equipment suppliers from across the globe through joint ventures will result in an additional installed nuclear power capacity of 40,000 MW by 2020.

India has 17 operating nuclear power reactors and plans to increase the current capacity of 4120 MW to 10,000 MW by 2012.

He also stressed that Indian companies must maintain their technological competence and ability to tap emerging markets.

“In so doing they should not allow themselves to be subjected to extraterritorial application of foreign laws that restrict their participation in the domestic development of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme which is the key to opening up of very large potential of nuclear power,” Kakodkar cautioned.

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