Marking a milestone in the development of sophisticated technology for India's ambitious nuclear power programme, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah handed over a fuelling machine head for the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (300 MWe) to Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Srikumar Banerjee here on Thursday.

Receiving the gigantic equipment manufactured by Hyderabad-based MTAR Technologies Private Ltd. for Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mr. Banerjee described it as a “marvel of engineering, which is the first of its kind in the world.”

BARC conceptualised and carried out the detailed design of the fuelling machine head and subsequently entrusted the task of manufacturing the prototype to MTAR. The 65-foot machine weighs 40 tonnes and is a vital component of the AHWR.

Praising the engineers of MTAR, BARC and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) for completing the challenging task, Mr. Banerjee said this was the first time that such equipment was made for a thorium-based reactor anywhere in the world.

“It is also a symbol of India entering the third phase of the nuclear power programme…This kind of public-private partnership in terms of technology provides confidence that anything can be built without depending on foreign supplies,” Mr. Banerjee said.

NPCIL chairman S.K. Jain said that with plans afoot to increase nuclear generation to 63,000 MWe in the next 25 years, nuclear reactors would not be imported on a turnkey basis and major components would be sourced from here.

Terming it a memorable day in the history of the State, Mr. Rosaiah said BARC had given the prestigious developmental order to MTAR due to their confidence in its competence.

Stating that nuclear energy could be one of the most potent means for India's long-term energy security, the Chief Minister said the Andhra Pradesh government would facilitate industries to take to manufacturing nuclear power equipment.

Speaking to journalists later, Mr. Banerjee said it was now proposed to increase the installed nuclear power to 35,000 MWe by 2020 and to 45,000 MWe by 2030.

More than half of the planned increase by 2020 would be met through imported reactors. He said all the imported reactors would be erected on coastal sites in Tamil Nadu (Kudankulam), Maharashtra (Jaitapur), Andhra Pradesh (Kovvada), West Bengal (Haripur), and Gujarat (Mithi Virdi).

Referring to the MoU signed between NPCIL and NTPC to form a joint venture for setting up nuclear power plants, Mr. Jain said it would be a completely new subsidiary of the two organisations with headquarters in Mumbai. Proposals were in the pipeline to set up similar ventures in collaboration with the Indian Oil Corporation and NALCO, which would be equity partners.

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