PM's foreign visits reinforced India's nuclear programme: Dr Jitendra Singh

PM's foreign visits reinforced India's nuclear programme: Dr Jitendra Singh 
The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that one of the major achievements of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s foreign visits over the last one and a half year is that these have immensely reinforced and strengthened India’s nuclear programme. He was stating this in response to a question in Lok Sabha today. He also gave details of the important nuclear deals and agreements accomplished during Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visits to different countries abroad. 

Dr Jitendra Singh said that following Prime Minister’s visit to Canada, an agreement was signed for supply of natural Uranium up to over 5,000 tons, while the Prime Minister’s visit to Kazakhstan accomplished an agreement for the supply of natural Uranium up to 7,000 tons. Similarly, during Prime Minister’s visit to Australia, a nuclear cooperation agreement was signed with Australia which paved the way for procurement of natural Uranium while his visit to USA concluded the deal for construction of nuclear reactors at Mithi Virdi site in Gujarat, he added. Another nuclear cooperation agreement was signed with the United Kingdom following Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visit there and a similar agreement for expansion of nuclear power programme at Kudankulam with the collaboration of Russia was signed during his Russian visit, he said.

Dr Jitendra Singh said that a notable achievement, perhaps the first of its kind in the history of independent India, was the introduction of Atomic Energy Bill 2015 in the Lok Sabha on the 7th of this month. The Bill, he said, seeks to amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1962, thereby facilitating joint-ventures by nuclear power units like Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) with Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) from other fields. This will help in supplementing the budgetary support for setting up of new nuclear installations and also meet the requirement of nuclear power generation in the years to come, he said.

Allaying fears about the possible hazards resulting from radiation from nuclear power plants. Dr Jitendra Singh said, not a single scientist working in these nuclear power plants have so far suffered from any health hazard due to radiation and that itself should be a reassurance for the people who have apprehensions about the setting up of nuclear power plants in their area. On the other hand, he said, in some foreign countries, nuclear power plants have been set up in thickly populated residential colonies.

Dr Jitendra Singh also informed the House that, as on date, there are, in total, 21 nuclear power reactors in the country, out of which 6 are located in Rajasthan but one of these 6 has gone out of order. However, he added, this deficiency will be adequately overcome when the country gets 6 more reactors with three times more generation capacity. Two of these will be set up in Rajasthan while of the other four, two each will be set up in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu respectively, he said. 
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Crop Protection Through Atomic Technique 
The Research efforts involving mutation breeding through radiation and allied techniques at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has significantly contributed to release of high yielding varieties in pulses and oilseeds over last 5 decades.

In the last 10 years, the groundnut varieties of BARC have contributed to about 14.2% of National Breeders’ seed indent. These varieties have become very popular in groundnut growing States like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

In addition, the pulse varieties of BARC like mungbean, pigeon pea and blackgram have also played an important role in increasing overall national productivity. BARC mung varieties such as TJM-3, TMB-37 and TM-96-2 accounted for 24% while pigeon pea variety TJT-501 accounted for 18% of the total national breeder seed indents for respective pulses during 2014-15. The introduction of pulse varieties suitable for rice fallow cultivation has increased the usage efficiency of agricultural fields. Twelve million hectares of rice fallows could be brought under pulse cultivation.

Various types of training programme are conducted for farmers in the Atomic field by Department of Atomic Energy through BARC such as:-

(i) Conducting regular awareness programmes for farmers in association with various agricultural universities.

(ii) Interaction with the farmers and explaining the standard cultivation practices to them regularly.

(iii) Participation in various agricultural related exhibitions where interaction with several farmers takes place.

(iv) Co-operation with progressive farmers for multiplication of varieties developed at BARC.

This information was provided the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in a reply to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha today. 

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