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New Delhi, Aug. 14

CLOSE on the heels of the Centre's decision to give thrust to the nuclear generation sector, the Planning Commission has also said that the country needs to maintain its lead in Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactors.

"India needs to maintain the lead that it has in the Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactors while continuing all diplomatic efforts to procure fuel to fire Tarapur and some 6,000 MW of additional imported light water reactors," a Planning Commission paper on the energy sector has said.

"The light water reactor capacity needs to be pursued even at the cost of limited islanding of international inspection, as they are critical to India's long-term energy security needs based on the abundant thorium reserves."

The focus on nuclear generation came up in a big way at the first meeting of the newly constituted Prime Minister's Energy Co-ordination Committee last week.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had reiterated the need for India to invest in nuclear energy and had said that the recent steps taken by the Government during his US visit to end India's global isolation in this regard should help increase the share of nuclear energy in the overall energy mix of the economy.

The need for India to import uranium and invest in uranium mining to meet the requirements of nuclear power generation was also discussed, largely because the price of domestically mined uranium is 4-5 times that of imported uranium.

On the issue of securing the country's energy security, the Commission has said in the paper that in order to exploit the coal reserves in a sustainable fashion, India needs to take the lead in four `clean coal' technologies - namely, recovering coal-bed methane and mine mouth methane, in situ coal gasification, carbon capture, and sequestration and integrated gasification combined cycle.

The commission has said that the country should mount National Technology Missions in each of these four areas.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 15, 2005)
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