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Nuclear plants secure, says former chief

Last updated on: January 05, 2009 15:39 IST
Dr M R Srinivasan, former chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, believes India's nuclear reactors, spread along the country's coastline, are secure against the threat of terrorist strikes.

Dr Srinivasan, who was among the panelists at the recent discussion on 26/11 at the Carnegie institution in Washington, DC, was discounting fears being expressed among the US intelligence and business communities that India's nuclear plants were in the terrorists' cross-hairs.

Such fears have gained greater currency in the wake of discussions between the Government of India and US-based energy companies aimed at setting up nuclear plants in the wake of the passage of the India-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.

Dr Srinivasan said even before the Mumbai attacks, 'a lot of security studies have been done and a considerable amount of money, training and manpower has been deployed to ensure that we can keep those installations safe from infiltration, and also the possibility of any terrorist attack or sabotage.'

On 26/11, he said, French nuclear physicist Dr George Vendryes had been invited by the nuclear fraternity in India to be honoured, 'and he and his wife were trapped at the Taj Mahal Hotel. So they were already concerned, and apart from that immediate involvement, they are continuously reviewing this matter.'

Dr Srinivasan said he and other members of the nuclear fraternity had met with Dr Vendryes and with the current Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Dr Anil Kakodkar to review security, and 'There is no question whatsoever that we have in place very good systems that are constantly being updated.'

In this connection, Dr Kakodkar in a recent media interaction said the security of the nuclear power plants across the country are being reviewed in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks; that additional security measures had been put in place and more action is being planned in the immediate future.

On a related note Harpal Singh, non-executive chairman of Ranbaxy Labs, said mechanisms were in place to protect the people and India's pharmaceutical industry from the threat of biological weapons in the hands of terrorists.

He said India has been constantly engaging with the US 'to look at what needs to be done on the preventive side, so that should an unfortunate sort of eventuality happen, then at least there would be an ability to respond to it quickly.'

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC