STATE TIMES NEWS NEW DELHI: Responding to a series of questions in the Lok Sabha today, in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and MoS PMO, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that India’s Nuclear Plants are absolutely safe and it is the responsibility of all of us, particularly the Members of the House across the Party lines, to undertake a mass awareness campaign to allay apprehensions in public about the alleged hazardous effects from nuclear installations, because that slows down our endeavour to expand the nuclear programme across the country. The issue came up in the Lok Sabha when the DMK raised doubts about the storage of spent-fuel from the Nuclear Power Reactor in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. Elaborating with a detailed chronology of events, Dr Jitendra Singh explained that Kudankulam Nuclear Plant had come up as a part of an agreement with the then Soviet Union in 1988, according to which, the spent-fuel from the Reactor was to be carried to Soviet Union. However, he recalled, after the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR),a fresh agreement was finalized with Russian government in 1998, as a result of which, India was required to store the spent-fuel and therefore, the need arose to set up a storage provision Away From Reactor (AFR) because the In-reactor storage capacity of this Plant is to come to an end by 2022. Dr Jitendra Singh also clarified the misgivings that Kudankulam will become a dumping ground for spent-fuel, saying that the storage provision there will be “Fuel Specific”, which means that it will not accept spent-fuel from any other Reactor. Dr Jitendra Singh disclosed that in some of the Western countries like France, the Nuclear Plants are coming up even in residential areas because there are absolutely fool-proof safeguards in place and in India also our safeguard mechanism is equally or even more reliable. However, in India, he said, we still need to increase awareness in public because many a times, the plans to set up new nuclear plants have met with resistance in different plants of the country including Rajasthan and Meghalaya. He said, the pro-active outreach of the Modi government over the last five years has helped to extend our nuclear programme to different parts of the country as far as Haryana in North India.
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