Amid growing concerns over the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday said the country should “pause a little” to look at the “state of preparedness” of the atomic plants to deal with emergencies like tsunami and earthquake.

Mr. Ramesh, however, said he was not making a case for the country to forever abandon nuclear power.

Terming as “horrendous” what happened to Japan’s nuclear safety in the aftermath of devastating earthquake and the resultant massive tsunami on March 11, Mr. Ramesh said, “We have to draw the appropriate lesson.”

“I think we have to pause a little, we have to look at the safety system. We have to look at our state of preparedness for emergencies like tsunamis and so on,” Mr. Ramesh said on the sidelines of the “India Today Conclave 2011” here.

“It is not an abandon button. It is a time for calm and cool thinking,” Mr. Ramesh said but made it clear that India is not going to abandon nuclear energy forever.

“That is clearly an unrealistic position to take given the need of our energy requirement. What happened in Japan is fully shocking and we have to do a thorough independent professional audit of our systems,” the Minister said.

His comments came amid concerns by environmentalists over safety of the planned Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra if it is affected by an earthquake or a massive tsunami.