New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) The government Friday said it has no intention to allow private firms to set up nuclear power plants independently, flatly rejecting the recommendation of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council that the nuclear power sector be opened up.
The private sector for the time being will have to be content with ‘being a minor partner’ in state-run enterprises setting up nuclear power plants, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan told the Rajya Sabha.
‘At this stage, the government does not intend to change the related provision of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, for private participation in setting up of nuclear power plants,’ said Chavan in response to a question on private investment in the nuclear power sector.
He said the 1962 Atomic Energy Act permitted private participation in setting up of nuclear power plants as ‘a minor partner of a government company’.
The act, amended in 1987, ’empowers the central government alone to develop, use and dispose of atomic energy either by itself or through any authority or corporation established by it or a government company.’
‘The entry of private entities as minor partner in this activity will enable them to learn complexities of nuclear technologies, quality and safety culture and a long-term commitment which extends up to the entire life time of power plants,’ the minister said.
Chavan ruled out changes in the 1962 legislation as suggested by the PMEAC to allow private firms in the business of nuclear power generation.
The PMEAC in its ‘Economic Outlook for 2009-10’ highlighted the need to diversify the country’s fuel sources and develop more natural gas and nuclear energy based power plants as opposed to the coal based capacities.
It sought legislative changes to allow the entry of private companies into the business of nuclear power generation within an appropriate regulatory framework so that ‘investment including that from established private companies interested in this business, can begin to flow.’
The minister, however, added that the government has as of now no intention to change the existing legal provisions on private participation in nuclear power generation.