New Delhi: In a bid to boost its capabilities in nuclear fusion technology, India on 6 July decided to join the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project at an estimated cost of Rs 2500 crore.
A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the country’s participation in the project and decided to set up an empowered Board by the Governing Council of the Institute for Plasma Research for its effective implementation, Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi told reporters here.
The foreign exchange component of the project, to come up at Cadarache in southern France, is calculated at Rs 1129 crore.
“India’s joining ITER is a recognition of its scientific and technical capability in fusion energy. Considering India’s large energy needs in future, our gaining technological capability in fusion energy will be of considerable long term benefit”, Dasmunsi said.
He said India’s participation in ITER would allow the country to “leapfrog in terms of our national technological capability in fusion energy”, the seventh member of an elite group of nations like China, European Union, United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
The multi-billion dollar project is aimed at demonstrating the scientific and technological feasibility of controlled nuclear fusion as a future source of energy, which is inherently non-polluting.
The proposed empowered board would have full financial powers, particularly in respect of single limited and restricted tendering process and administrative powers to the total extent of the budgetary sanction of Rs 2500 crore.
It would also have full autonomy in laying down the rules, procedures and guidelines for financial, administrative and any other matter relating to the execution of the project, within the framework of the agreement signed among the ITER parties and ITER International Organisation, Dasmunsi said.
The Board would have autonomy to decide on delegation of financial and administrative powers in conformity with the guidelines of the government and the Central Vigilance Commission, he said, adding it would also have powers to create posts and lay down suitable recruitment norms.
India had expressed interest in joining the ITER project as a full partner on the basis of its advanced scientific and technological base, its sound record of R&D in fusion and in view of its enormous energy needs.