Business, Economics and Jobs

Indian PM promises "independent" nuclear regulator

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said steps would be taken to make the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) “truly autonomous and independent,” India's Hindu newspaper reported.

“We will strengthen the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and make it a truly autonomous and independent regulatory authority. We will ensure that it is of the highest and the best international standards,” the paper quoted Singh as saying at a function in New Delhi to honor nuclear scientists.

The unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami has prompted a series of reassurances from the PM and other proponents of nuclear power in India, even as protests mount against a nuclear facility in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, which promises to be the world's largest nuclear power plant when it is finished.

Earlier, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has admitted that India's safety reviews are suspect, because the regulator is subordinate to the agency responsible for building India's nuclear capacity. Meanwhile, a former chairman of the AERB has criticized India's disaster preparedness, safety reviews and environmental impact assessment process.