As quoted in the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 itself, “An Act to provide for the development, control and use of atomic energy for the welfare of the people of India and other peaceful purposes and matters connected therewith.”
The act aims for the utilization of atomic energy, released from the atomic nuclei by the process of fission and fusion, for peaceful and development purposes. It further contributes to the manufacturing of any classified or unclassified product as the central government deems fit. The Act empowers the central government of full control of the functions of the plant along with powers to classify any piece of information as “restricted information” and execution of building boards and institutes for atomic research and much more.
The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 as mentioned extends to the whole country, also vests powers in the central government to conduct or acquire any trade or property in the country for the justified purpose under the influence of the act after fair compensation. The government, in this scenario, is an indubitable authority as far as the use, development, or control of atomic energy is concerned. Though, safety against harmful effects of radiation while utilization, extraction or disposal of radioactive material is still disputable, in favor of the citizens of the country.
Though, according to the Act, the provisions are binding on the Central Government itself.
Evolution of Atomic Energy in India
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki lead to realization of massive energy-generating potential of Uranium to R.S. Krishnan, who was a student to Norman Feather and John Cockroft. He observed that if the energy like in the blast can be harnessed or channeled to drive machinery, etc., He also realized the hard work and difficulties in the research of such a deal of putting atomic power to industrial use. March 1946, was the development of the Atomic Research Committee by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research under the leadership of Homi J. Bhabha. The goal was to assess the country’s atomic resources and put them to a sustainable use, the government also wished to establish contacts for further research and development of the atomic resources globally. During which the council of the University of Travancore, now University of Kerala met to review the Travancore’s industrial development, where an all-India programme was proposed by the council in order to develop the resources of monazite, which is an ore of thorium and ilmenite with effect to implications of atomic energy in the state. Therefore, the execution deputed Bhabha and Sir Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Director to CSIR, to Tranvancore in 1947 establishing a working relationship with Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, the Dewan of the Travancore kingdom.
The resolutions of the year 1947, pitched the government the plot of establishment of Uranium belt for development of resources of Uranium-bearing minerals under the Geological Survey of India. June of 1947, led to establishment of an Advisory Board for Research in Atomic Energy by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, minister of education, supply, finance and industry in the Interim Government of India. The Board was Chaired by Bhabha under the influence of CSIR, with scientists like Sir K. S. Krishnan and geologists like Doroshaw Nosherwan Wadia and Nazir Ahmad, and three representatives of the Travancore Government. However, later in 1949 after thorough negotiations Travancore gave up the independency from the nation.
On March 23 1948, the Parliament was introduced to the Atomic Energy Bill by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and was successfully passed as the Indian Atomic Energy Act, structured on the British Atomic Energy Act 1946. The act vested complete authority to the central government under the headlines of nuclear research and science, survey for atomic minerals and development of such minerals on industrial scale, training and education of necessary personnel and nourishment of former nuclear research. During the simultaneous period, the Government of West Bengal, under the University of Calcutta sanctioned the development of a nuclear physics research institute. It was inaugurated on 11 January, 1950 by Irene Joliot-Curie.
On 1st June 1948, the Advisory Board for Research in Atomic Energy, paired with CSIR, was folded into the Department of Scientific Research and moduled under the Prime Minister. Later on 3 August 1948, the Atomic Energy Commission of India was formed and segregated from the Department of Scientific Research, appointed Sir Homi J. Bhabha as the first chairman. The January of 1949 was an important year for the research and evolution of nuclear energy in the country. The Atomic Energy Commission formulated U.G. and P.G. courses and syllabus to provide the sufficient candidates for the institutization of the fundamental and theoretical physics and chemistry, also the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was set up and recognized by CSIR for the purpose of all major nuclear science research projects. The following year led to a big announcement by the government, stating to purchase all the available minerals and ores of beryllium and uranium and declaring awards to the one who would discover the whereabouts of the same. Later in 1954, the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay was designated by the Atomic Energy Commission to gather all nuclear science related research and developments which also included various research and development institutes like Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and University of Calcutta Research Institute and hand over to the new Department of Atomic Energy, which was directly governed by the Prime Minister’s Office. In 1956, the construction of the first research reactor began in Trombay which included a uranium metal plant and a fuel element fabrication unit. It was completed in 1960 and renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1967 as a memorial to the man himself Sir Homi J. Bhabha. With the advancements of atomic energy in the country, the Atomic Energy Act, 1948 was amended in 1961 and came into force in September 1962.
The Commercial Nuclear Power Generation
The recommendation of generation of industrial energy was pitched in the beginning of the nuclear evolution to the government. In November 1958, the Atomic Energy Commission recommended construction of two nuclear power stations, which would include two units with the capability of 500 MW of power generation each, respectively. And the goal to achieve power generation of 1000 MW. Instead the government agreed to 250 MW of power generation from the nuclear reactors and incorporated the Third Five Year Plan (1961-1966).
In October 1960, the government issued the tender for the construction of the first nuclear power station near Tarapur, Maharashtra which included development of two nuclear reactors generating 150 MW of power each, and to be commissioned in 1965. The government signed the agreement to India’s first nuclear power plant in Rajasthan referred to as RAPP-1, ij 1963 which was eventually followed by RAPP-2 in 1966. The reactors consisted of rigid guidelines and standards that directed that it is not to be used for military and defense purposes and only for industrial use.
In 2009, India expected to expand the nuclear course and increase the nuclear power generation from 2.8% to 9%, till 2033. And by 2020, the nuclear power generation of the country was supposed to be 20 GW but would not be able to exceed 7 GW. At present, India stands 13th in the world in terms of nuclear power generation.
The Atomic Energy Regulation Board
Constituted by the President of India on 15 November 1983 by exercising powers vested in the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 section 27, the Atomic Energy Regulation Board (AERB) with the purpose of regard with safety and regulatory functions under the act. The guidelines and standards of safety and regulation are formulated from the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. Precisely, the objective of the board is to ensure the utilization of the ionization of nuclear energy should not endanger the environment and health of the public. The AERB is reviewed and helped in the operations by Safety Review Committee for Operating Plants (SARCOP), Advisory Committee for Project Safety Review (ACPSR) and Safety Review Committee for Applications of Radiation (SARCAR). The ACPSRs help by recommending the AERB for issuance of authorisations at various stages of Department of Atomic Energy, during the construction of a nuclear plant. It is post the review process of reports by plant authorities of implicated Design Safety Committees. The Sarcop further advances the safety and regulatory surveillance by enforcing safety stipulations. The SARCAR ensures the enforcement of safety and regulation of radiation from various radioactive sources at places where it is utilized. The AERB is also supported by the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safety (ACNS), which institutes of advisors from AERB, DAE and the organizations outside the DAE. The ACNS also chooses the published safety codes, and guides and standards fro design, operation, execution, quality assurance, construction and additionally life extension or termination of power plants which are formulated by respective committees for each areas. The administrative mechanism under operational and regulatory areas ensure multi-tier review by experts which are from chosen institutions and also government agencies.
However, after considering the history of atomic energy and nuclear science from evolution in utilization in defense purposes to industrial energy generation. The research in the above article profiles the potential of nuclear power generation, utilization by causing ineffectual consequences to the environment and health of the personnel. since , the beginning of discovry of atomic ores in the country, the government has focused upon the clean and minimum environment endangerment protocols while the attainment of maximum use of the nuclear energy. Basically, the concept of such utilization can be referred to as sustainable use of nuclear energy.
Additionally, the government has been keen on maximization of production of nuclear energy, which has led to the governance of all the operation under the concept of nuclear energy to be placed under the Prime Minister’s office directly. The proposal of the Atomic Energy Bill in the parliament and further when it was passed, and the various boards and institutions governing all the operation under nuclear energy have been under the Prime Minister’s office. The Atomic Energy Act itself vests adequately necessary powers in the central government to perform any operation desired under the influence of nuclear power generation. Although, such discretion and formulation of Acts have led India from null to 13th position globally, in terms of nuclear power generation.
1. Krishnan, R. S. (August 1945). "Atomic Energy" (PDF).
6. "Homi J. Bhabha (1909-1966)" (PDF). Indian National Science Academy.
7. Central Government Act Section 27 in Atomic Energy Act, 1962