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uclear energy has the potential of playingan increasingly important role in India'sachieving energy independence fromtraditional and often polluting sources,declares Dr Manmohan Singh, the country's PrimeMinister, at the Department of Atomic Energy'sLifetime Achievement Awards in New Delhi. We are gathered here today for a very special purpose -the conferment of the Department of Atomic Energy'sLifetime Achievement Award for 2009 to four of ourmost distinguished scientists. I extend my heartiest congratulations to Shri N.Srinivasan, Dr V. K. Iya, Professor Obaid Siddiqi andShri V. K. Mehra and their families for having beenchosen for this highly prestigious award of the AtomicEnergy fraternity. They have individually excelled in their areas ofspecialisation, in many ways they have become leadersand role models and it is for me a great sense of prideto be here on this occasion in the company of suchdedicated and committed scientists from the AtomicEnergy fraternity. Today India has fully demonstrated its capabilities inall the scientific and technological aspects associatedwith the design, development, construction, operationand maintenance of nuclear reactors and associatedfuel cycle facilities. We owe this to the success of theindigenous three-stage programme whose foundationwas laid by Dr Homi Bhabha. The decades of nuclear isolation under which ournuclear programme evolved has fortunately ended.India is now an active participant in international civilnuclear cooperation. This has brought with it newopportunities as well as new responsibilities. I have nodoubt that the opening of the doors of international co-operation will help us in our efforts to enhance ourenergy security. For a large and fast growing economy like ours, it isimperative that we tap all sources of energy, anddiversify our energy mix. Nuclear energy has thepotential of playing an increasingly important role ingiving our country energy independence from thetraditional and often polluting sources. The tragedy at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear powerplant in Japan has raised world-wide concerns aboutthe safety of nuclear energy as a source of power. It isvitally important to address these concerns. The people of India have to be convinced about thesafety and security of our own nuclear power plants.We should bring greater openness and transparency inthe decision making processes relating to our nuclearenergy programme and improve our capacity torespond to the public desire to be kept informed aboutdecisions and issues that are of concern to them. Iwould like to see accountability and transparency inthe functioning of our nuclear power plants. The safety track record of our nuclear power plants over the past 335 reactor-years of operation has been impeccable. I congratulate all our scientists and engineers for this achievement. But, we cannot be complacent. The government will take all the necessary measures toensure the safety of our plants. I have already directeda technical review of all safety systems of our nuclearpower plants using the best expertise available in ourcountry. The future reactors that will be built in IndiaAN ESSENTIAL OPTION OF ENERGY076NUCLEAR ENERGYDR MANMOHAN SINGH, PRIME MINISTER, INDIANTop right: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe; Right: UN Photo/Jawad Jalalih

NUCLEAR ENERGY077Below: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon(left) meets DrManmohan Singh (right)at Nuclear Summit inWashington DCRight:Diversifying energy mix will have to be certified by the Indian regulatoryauthority and meet its safety standards. This will applyequally to reactors and technologies that are importedfrom abroad. We will strengthen the Atomic Energy RegulatoryBoard and make it a truly autonomous andindependent regulatory authority. We will ensure that itis of the highest and the best international standards. Our nuclear scientists and technologists are second tonone. Your record proves that you have always risen tothe challenge. I am confident that you will attain newheights of excellence for the welfare and benefit of ourcountry. In this, you will have the full support of the government. nThe above remarks were delivered by Dr ManmohanSingh on the occasion of the conferment of theDepartment of Atomic Energy's Lifetime AchievementAwards 2009 in New Delhi on 29 March, 2011