COLOMBO: Indian as well as Sri Lankan officials here have denied that the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement signed by Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday, envisages India’s setting up nuclear power plants in Lanka.
Officials explained that the deal will enable India to train Lankan personnel in peaceful uses of nuclear energy in fields such as, medicine and agriculture. Training will also cover measures to ensure nuclear safety. Indian experts will tell their Lankan counterparts about the safety features incorporated in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and how Lanka can tackle a nuclear fallout in the unlikely event of that happening.
Officials described as fanciful an agency report that Lanka is looking to produce 600 MW through nuclear plants.
Even without a formal agreement, India has for some time been helping Lanka use nuclear science in medicine in a small way in medicine. The New Delhi agreement is a “breakthrough” to the extent that this is the first time that Lanka has signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation with any country, and India has signed with any of its neighbors, the officials explained.
Lanka is very conscious about the impact of nuclear power plants on its environment, and has made a major fuss about a possible mishap at Kudankulam and even Kalpakkam. India has attempted to address these fears, but unsuccessfully. The present agreement is expected to result in the formation of a joint committee to address this and other issues involved in nuclear cooperation.
Lanka Far From Producing Nuclear Power
That Lanka is far from producing nuclear power is evident from the latest (2013) projections about power generation by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)).
In regard to nuclear power, the document says: “ The development of nuclear power for civil purposes appears to be gaining acceptance worldwide. As a matter of preparedness, CEB will initiate a process to seek technical assistance from the IAEA for preliminary research on future nuclear technology. In this regard, during the planning period, with the assistance of the IAEA, a roadmap for the possible implementation of this option will be defined so as to ascertain its economic viability. It is worth highlighting that this preparatory process in itself may cover a period of at least 10 to 15 years.”