While asserting that there could be “no compromise” on ensuring the highest safety standards for nuclear reactors, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday emphasised the importance of nuclear power.

“We are in the process of expanding our civil nuclear energy programme. Even as we do so, we have to ensure that the use of nuclear energy in India meets the highest safety standards. This is a matter on which there can be no compromise,” he said speaking at a function to mark the conclusion of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) here.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, the Centre directed a technical review of all nuclear power plants. A Bill for establishing the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India was expected to be introduced in Parliament soon.

“I am convinced that nuclear energy will play an important role in our quest for a clean and environmentally friendly energy mix as a major locomotive to fuel our development process,” Dr. Singh said on his first visit to West Bengal after the new government headed by Mamata Banjeree took charge.

State scrapped project

The Prime Minister's remark on the importance of nuclear power comes days after the State government announced its decision to scrap the proposed Nuclear Energy Park at the coastal site of Haripur in Purba Medinipur district. The project was part of an India-Russia agreement for cooperation in nuclear energy.

Dr. Singh applauded the achievements of the SINP, including the setting up of the first electron microscope and the first cyclotron of the country as well as the introduction of pre-PhD. courses and the emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach to higher education.

He emphasised the need for closer linkages between academia and industry, claiming that the government was encouraging the process at all levels. He said the private sector could contribute more.

“Higher investments in research and development should be accorded high priority across the economy,” he said ruing that the number of patents filed by Indians was much less than those filed in the developed world and even in some developing countries.

Governor M. K. Narayanan, Ms. Banerjee, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee were present.