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"I am truly honoured to be here today for the dedication of Units 3 and 4 of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station to the Nation.
Tarapur is where India's quest for developing nuclear energy began in 1969. Tarapur is a shining example that India can do it; that we can overcome hurdles. It, therefore, holds special significance for our country's journey towards the building of a strong and self-reliant economy. Tarapur stands as a tribute to the visionary leadership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Homi Bhabha and to all those nuclear scientists and engineers who have helped to translate that magnificent vision into reality. Their hard work has today earned us a place among the leading nations of the world in the area of nuclear technology. On behalf of a grateful nation, I salute all the scientists and engineers for this great national effort.
I would particularly like to compliment the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and all those in the Department of Atomic Energy, Indian industry, our R&D facilities and Universities who have made the development of TAPS 3 and 4 possible. It is truly an outstanding effort, achieved in the face of adverse circumstances and challenges of the last few decades. I congratulate each and every one of you. This is a moment of pride for all Indians.
The development of our indigenous capability in the area of nuclear power generation demonstrates that where there is a will there is a way.
Starting from humble beginnings in the 1960s, the country today has seventeen power reactors, largely Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor plants. Those that we have developed are state-of-the-art facilities. As we move forward on development of fast breeder reactors and thorium reactors, I have no doubt that we would in the future exercise global leadership in these technologies.
There can be no greater tribute to our capabilities than the fact that Units 3 and 4 of TAPS have been commissioned ahead of schedule and well within the sanctioned cost.
Why do we place so much importance on nuclear energy ? I have no doubt whatsoever that the sustainability of our long-term economic growth is critically dependent on our ability to meet our energy requirements of the future. When a country of the size of India begins to grow at the rate of 9% per annum, with the prospect of even higher rates of growth, energy becomes a critical issue.
A lot has been written and said on what our energy requirements will be. A few simple truths stare us in the face. First, our proven resources of coal, oil, gas and hydropower are totally insufficient to meet our requirements. Second, we do not enjoy the luxury of an either - or choice. India needs energy from all known and likely sources of energy. Third, the energy we generate has to be affordable, not only in terms of its financial cost, but in terms of the cost to our environment.
Nuclear power is recognised as an important and environmentally benign constituent of the overall energy mix. There is today talk the world over of a nuclear renaissance and we cannot afford to miss the bus or lag behind these global developments.
We are fortunate to have vast thorium resources, which we must harness. India's three-stage nuclear power programme thus forms the bedrock of our long-term strategy. This unique thorium-based technology will become an economically viable alternative over a period of time.
At the same time, our uranium resource base is limited. We have, therefore, consciously opted for a closed fuel cycle approach ever since the beginning of our nuclear power programme. We need to expeditiously develop fast reactor technologies and intensify efforts to locate additional uranium resources in the country. Government will extend its full support in this regard.
Even as we pursue our three-stage programme, it is necessary to look at augmenting our capabilities. We need to supplement our uranium supplies from elsewhere even as the DAE has taken a number of laudable steps to maximize output within the limited resources. We must take decisive steps to remove the uncertainties that result from shortfall in fuel supplies to avoid disruptions in our nuclear power production programme.
We need to pave the way for India to benefit from nuclear commerce without restrictions.We need to enable our industries to gain access to cutting edge technology, and we need to create opportunities for our scientists to participate in the international exchange of scientific ideas and technical know-how.
We have set a modest target of 20,000 MW of nuclear power generation by the year 2020. This can be doubled with the opening up of international cooperation.
This cooperation will not be dependent on any one country and we will source supplies from many of the countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group including the United States, Russia, France and Japan. However, our international cooperation with these and other countries cannot become effective until the Nuclear Suppliers Group adapts its guidelines to enable nuclear commerce with India. The NSG itself has made it clear that they will not do so till the India specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA is finalized.
Once these and other steps are taken, India can commence civil nuclear cooperation with all the 45 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This will signal the end of our international isolation of the past few decades. India is now too important a country to remain outside the international mainstream in this critical area.
I have full confidence in our scientists and engineers and believe that the removal of iniquitous restrictions and shackles on our programme will enhance our indigenous capabilities. We will do nothing to hurt our capacity to solve our problems ourselves. The pursuit of self-reliance will continue to be the key principle of our policy. A strong nuclear energy programme is in our vital interest and is important for our scientific development, energy needs and national security. It will add to our capabilities and strength as a united nation.
With your dedication and track record of accomplishments, I am confident that our domestic technological capability will only grow in strength. Our country is fortunate to have a person of the eminence and distinction of Dr. Anil Kakodkar to guide the development of the country's nuclear programme.
Finally, I must also compliment all of you for the impeccable safety record of our nuclear industry.
With these words, I dedicate Units 3 and 4 of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station, India's first 540 MWe nuclear power plant, to the service of the Nation."