Steady progress on nuclear energy


IT is really a great achievement that despite consistent opposition by some powerful countries Pakistan has been able to achieve remarkable progress not only on military use of nuclear technology but also on the energy front. Completion of 340 MW Chashma-III (C-III) nuclear power plant is indeed a tribute to scientists, engineers and technicians of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and our all weather friend China.
Way back in 2005, a target of 8800 MW of nuclear power by 2030 was set but given the ground situation it seemed to be a Herculean task as the country remained victim of nuclear apartheid. India was first to introduce nuclear weapons in the subcontinent but Pakistan was targeted with unprecedented sanctions, denying it access to even peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The Energy Security Plan 2005 envisaged meeting crippling energy shortages and growing demand but members of the NSG, with the exception of China, have all along demonstrated illogical and discriminatory attitude towards Pakistan while most of them are eager to provide all sorts of technologies and know-how to India, which is also non-signatory of NPT. However, thanks to the will and determination of PAEC and willingness of China to extend necessary cooperation, the target of 8800 MW is in sight. PAEC is now contributing about 1200 MW to the national grid and this would increase to 1540 MW when C-4 becomes operational early 2017. Work on K-2 and K-3 in Karachi is also in progress, which would add 2200 MW of electricity to the grid. It was heartening to hear from the PAEC Chairman that there are active plans to establish three more plants of 1100 MW capacity each at Muzaffargarh and Chashma. Completion of all these nuclear power plants would lead to a total generation capacity of over 6500 MW. The Prime Minister has tasked the Commission to draw up plans to go beyond the target so as to contribute further in the economic development of the country and we are sure PAEC has the capacity to undertake the mission successfully. It would also be in the long-term interest of the country if, apart from fuel fabrication, measures are taken for indigenous production of small scale nuclear power plants to serve as stand-alone arrangement of energy for different cities and urban centres.