Thorium-based 300 MW nuclear power plant at Kalapakkam in Tamil Nadu will be commissioned next year, Parliament was informed today. Answering a supplementary during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said a major part of the project has already been completed and it would be commissioned next year.
India is one of the leading countries with well-advanced Thorium utilisation technologies, developed indigenously, and has the world's third largest (around 12 per cent) Thorium reserve.
"For a large growing population of our country, it is important to have a vision of energy independence, implying the necessity for meeting the energy demands using indigenous resources to the maximum extent," Singh said.
"With this perspective, utilisation of very large resources of Thorium available in the country has been envisioned as an important element of the Indian nuclear programme," he said.
The Minister, however, said on account of non-existence of any fissile isotope in naturally occurring Thorium, unlike that existing in Uranium, commercial utilisation of Thorium, on a large scale, can begin only when abundant supply of either Uranium or Plutonium resources are available.
"Therefore, considering meagre domestic uranium resources in the country, it is feasible to start significant commercial level Thorium-based reactor programme in our country only after an adequate inventory of Plutonium becomes available from our fast-breed reactors, comprising the second stage of Indian nuclear power programme," he said.
Singh said since green house gases do not emit in generation of nuclear power, Thorium-based power generation would, therefore, qualify for treatment as a clean source of energy.
Thorium deposits are found in the form of monazite in the sandy beaches of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and other places.
To a question regarding illegal mining in Thorium-rich areas in the garb of taking out granets, the Minister said steps are being taken including the use of space technology and enhanced monitoring at ports.