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The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has urged the Union Power Ministry to move a Cabinet note for seeking government approval to amend 1962 Atomic Energy Act to allow private sector participation in nuclear power generation.
“Almost a year has elapsed ever since India ended its nuclear isolation by forging a nuclear alliance with United States of America, besides other economies for cooperation in nuclear energy generation”, pointed out the Assocham President, Dr Swati Piramal. However, initiatives for roping in private power utilities’ involvement in nuclear energy have yet to commence from relevant quarters, she added.
In a communication addressed to the Union Power Ministry, Dr. Piramal said, “private sector participation in nuclear power generation is still prohibited on account of necessary amendments to Atomic Energy Act of 1962.”
Amendments to this Act are necessary to enable private sector to foray into nuclear power generation although as many as 40 leading power utilities in private sector have conclusive plans to diversify into nuclear power, feels the Assocham.
Such drawn up plans, would remain on paper and cannot be put into execution until government amends the 1962 Atomic Energy Act and include provisions in the amended Act for private sector participation in nuclear energy, said Dr. Piramal.
According to her, delay in making amendments in the Act, would further increase power shortages and prevent India record close to 9% GDP growth during remaining period of 11 five year plan and even subsequently. A robust growth of power sector is essential to help India register the projected GDP growth rate.
The Assocham has therefore urged the government to develop a consensus in ruling alliance so that Atomic Energy Act is amended without any further delay and India moves on to take up nuclear power generation and make capacity addition of a minimum 20,000 MW through nuclear generation by 2020.
According to the body, power utilities such as Tata’s, North East Power Company, JSW, Jaiprakash Associates, Reliance, GMR, Lanco etc. are ready with their nuclear energy diversification drive and awaiting the proposed act to be amended.
In addition to these established players, Jindal Power, Torrent Power, RPG, Malana Power are among other power utilities that have also firmed up their plans to diversify in nuclear energy in cooperation with state owned companies or through joint ventures agreements with overseas companies.
The Chamber, therefore, has demanded that in order to meet requirement of energy and curb growing energy deficit, expansion in nuclear energy is the need of hour, besides harnessing other sources of energy in non-conventional areas.
The Assocham also feels that since fossil based fuel is going to be scarce in near future and thermal energy generation would largely depend on imported coal, India would have to accelerate efforts to increase its nuclear power capacity currently share of which in total power generation is close to 3% to at least 10% in the 12th plan period.
 

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