IAEA chief's India visit begins today

By : Sanjay Jog
Last Updated: Sun, Mar 10, 2013 19:33 hrs

Amid rising opposition to nuclear projects in the country, Yukiya Amano, director-general of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is visiting India on March 11-15. The visit also coincides with the second anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident.

On 11 March 2011, a huge earthquake and tsunami left more than 20,000 people dead or missing in eastern Japan. Amid widespread destruction, the tsunami slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, disabling cooling systems and leading to fuel meltdowns in three of the six units.

Amano will visit Mumbai and Delhi. Officials from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board are expected to discuss with Amano the present status of the nuclear sector and the changes made in safety and security applications.

The contentious issue of India's civil nuclear liability regime, which has been questioned by global nuclear reactor suppliers, is also expected to come up for discussion. The visit comes close on the heels of the Central government's move to take up a Bill envisaging the establishment of an independent nuclear regulator during the ongoing Budget session of Parliament.

“Amano will be visiting India during March 11-15 on the invitation of R K Sinha (chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and secretary, DAE). During Amano's visit, bilateral discussions will be held in Mumbai and New Delhi. Amano on Monday will deliver the Indian Nuclear Society’s silver jubilee lecture on IAEA Perspective on Future Nuclear Energy,” a DAE official told Business Standard.

“Amano’s India visit is first after the Fukushima nuclear accident and the subsequent additional safety applications made by NPCIL in 20 operating nuclear plants. Additional safety measures will also be incorporated in the nuclear capacity addition by both indigenous and foreign reactors,” added the official, requesting anonymity.

The visit is crucial as NPCIL, which currently operates 20 plants, is struggling to counter protests against nuclear projects proposed in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. The company has yet to close the final works contract with Areva for the initial supply of two evolutionary pressurised reactors of 1,650 Mw for the Jaitapur project, while it hopes to start generation in April from Kudankulam’s unit I.

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