In an attempt to ensure that the country’s nuclear programme is not dependent on the implementation of the Indo- US civil nuclear deal, the govt is investing heavily in uranium exploration."Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya and other regions are among those we are looking at for uranium exploration," Anil Kakodkar, Secretary, DAE, said.Approximately Rs 700 crore is being invested in using the latest technology to explore multiple states for uranium, he said.Kakodkar, who is also Chariman of the Atomic Energy Commission, refused to comment on the status of the nuclear deal, which is currently being debated by the UPA-Left Committee.The 15-member political panel, which met last week, will hold its next meeting on 28th May.
"We have discussed this deal with other countries and the IAEA. Now the rest of the decision is not technical," Kakodkar said on the sidelines of a function organised to commemorate National Technology Day at BARC in Mumbai.However, the deal would not be as crucial if the investment in uranium exploration yielded returns, he said."We are making massive investment in uranium exploration and if we hit a huge find then the problem is over."
Kakodkar said currently the country has four uranium mines, all of which are located in Jharkhand.However, nuclear power plants in the country have been reportedly functioning at half the capacity due to lack of uranium, a radioactive metallic chemical element used as a fuel in nuclear reactors.Uranium plays a crucial role in India’s three-stage nuclear programme, which in the future, is expected to be dependent on the radioactive element thorium that is found in large quantity in the country.
Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) has proposed the setting up of mining and milling plants in two districts in Andhra Pradesh.Further investments are also expected to be made in uranium processing in Jharkhand.The UCIL has faced some oppositon for their proposed mine in Meghalaya, but Kakodkar said they were working to resolve the issue.