COLOMBO: Officials of both India and Sri Lanka 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 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.
Indian experts will tell their Lankan counterparts about the safety features incorporated in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant and how Lanka can tackle a nuclear fallout in the unlikely event of that happening.
Even without a formal agreement, India has for some time been helping Lanka use nuclear science in medicine in a small way.
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 neighbours, 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 Koodankulam and even Kalpakkam.
That Lanka is far from producing nuclear power is evident from the latest projections about power generation by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)). It says: “The development of nuclear power for civil purposes appears to be gaining acceptance. As a matter of preparedness, CEB will initiate a process to seek technical assistance from the IAEA for preliminary research on future nuclear technology. It is worth highlighting that this preparatory process in itself may cover a period of at least 10 to 15 years.”