The Centre on Wednesday said it was in the process of “exploring new sites in Punjab” for setting up atomic power plants”.
Replying to a supplementary by Anantnag MP Hasnain Masoodi on shortage of power in Jammu and Kashmir during the question hour in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said while the government was already in the process of setting up a plant in Haryana it was exploring new venues near Bathinda and Patiala to set up nuclear power plants.
“The question is actually related to the Ministry of Power and is not directly related to the Department of Atomic Energy. As far as the Department of Atomic Energy is concerned, I appreciate the first half of your concern that the increasing needs of energy are being felt even in peripheral states such as Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.
“What we have done in the last four-five years under the guidance of the prime minister is that we are trying to explore other venues where we could set up atomic plants. That is how we have come back to Haryana. We are already setting up a plant. We are in the process of exploring new sites in Punjab near Bathinda and Patiala.
“We have a huge reserve in Meghalaya, in northeast. But only because of landslides and some earthquake proneness, we got little held up. As far as the atomic energy availability is concerned, we are gradually moving to different parts of the country. Possibly, one day, Jammu and Kashmir will also get that benefit,” he said.
Nuclear energy is going to be the main source of energy for India’s rising energy requirements in the years to come. It is also a clean source of energy, Singh said assuring the House on the safety aspects.
Notably, around 2016 there were reports about Centre expanding the nuclear programme, looking for possible sites in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana for setting up plants.
Northern states — Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and J&K—do not have any nuclear plants. The Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP) will be first nuclear plant among the five states.
However, the then Punjab Government and also the Congress party had virtually rejected the proposal saying there was no need for such facility in a state that was power surplus.
“We are hugely power surplus, so do not need any such plant,” officials of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) were quoted as saying.
Congress leaders also rejected the plan, calling a nuclear power plant in a densely populated border state a huge security risk.
“Punjab cannot afford it. The risks involved are disproportionately much more than the advantages. We may not need it given the production capacity of existing plants,” they said.
Notably the Congress government had also rejected the proposal for setting up a nuclear power plant in Darauli in Patiala in early 2000.
In 2016, reports quoted Jitendra Singh as saying that the government was exploring the possible spots near Dehradun in Utarakhand and near Patiala in Punjab and Bhiwani in Haryana.