India has been making advances in the field of thorium-based fuels, working to design and develop a prototype for an atomic reactor using thorium and low-enriched uranium, a key part of India's three stage nuclear power programme.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, paid his first visit to Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in Mumbai last week. He was briefed by Dr. R.K. Sinha, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy and other top officials and scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on India's atomic energy programme; DAE's extensive research and development and education programmes; and DAE's contributions in other areas such as healthcare, especially cancer treatment, food security, solid waste management and water purification.
Prime Minister expressed his strong appreciation for the extraordinary achievements of Indian scientific community in one of the most complex and challenging fields of science and technology. He said their success was especially creditable because it took place in the face of decades of international technology denial regime; India's self-reliance in the nuclear fuel cycle and the commercial success of the indigenous reactors demonstrated that with vision, resolve and hard work, India could be a front ranking country in the most challenging fields.
Prime Minister reiterated his belief that energy security, which was increasingly based on clean and reliable sources of energy, was the critical driver of India's rapid and sustained long term development. He saw an essential role for nuclear energy in India's energy strategy, given the scale of demand in India.
Prime Minister assured the DAE of his full support in the implementation of DAE's ambitious expansion programme and expressed hope that DAE would meet the target of increasing the capacity by three times from the present level of 5780 MW by 2023-24 within the projected cost. He underlined the importance of ensuring that nuclear energy remained commercially viable and competitive with other sources of clean energy in the long run. He also asked DAE to continually upgrade technology, both with regard to our long term plans and international trends. DAE, he said, must also plan for ensuring adequate availability of skilled human resources in the country.
He hoped that the role of industry in providing equipment and systems for the nuclear programme would continue to grow and recognized that adequate incentive structure should exist to facilitate that. He noted that we would need to tap additional sources of investments for our ambitious expansion programme. He welcomed India's growing international partnership in the field of nuclear energy and hoped for timely implementation of the ongoing projects in a manner that they met the requirements of techno-economic viability and safety standards. Technology transfer to India, he observed, was a vital element of his vision for international partnership in India.