After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in July last year, where he told the nuclear and scientific fraternity that the face of the nuclear energy programme in India should be societal benefits and applications, the institute will now “open up” to the public.
On the sidelines of a session on atomic energy Monday, BARC Director Sekhar Basu told The Indian Express that they will launch a massive public outreach programme, and allow students, researchers, entrepreneurs, industrialists and the general public to come, go around BARC and visit facilities open to the public, especially those related to medicine, healthcare and agriculture, among other initiatives for the people. The aim is to remove a perception of secrecy and mystery surrounding BARC and its work.
“We will specifically look at school students, science students and also members of the general public, whoever wants to come, and we will take them in groups of 20 to 30 to various facilities, which are of interest and open to the public like the Dhruva reactor. The others could be food preservation, agriculture, waste management and robotics.
Sometimes it will be just a round of BARC and then we can give them a presentation of what we do. We will launch it formally on National Science Day on February 28. Before that also, if any one approaches us, we will take them around. Atomic energy works for the poor, so people should know. And when the PM visited BARC last year, he told us very clearly that you bring out the societal applications of atomic energy,” said Basu.
During his interaction at BARC, Modi had exhorted the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to present the human
face of India’s capabilities in nuclear science and had suggested that they should enlarge the outreach programme so that people know about them.
“There are some people who come for technology, we can give them a presentation on what technologies are available with us. We are also very keen on having entrepreneurs to take these technologies out. The present government has a ‘lab to land’ concept. They (entrepreneurs) can help us in a big way in implementing this concept,” he said.
Basu’s presentation during the session also stressed on applications of atomic energy in the “service of the nation” and said that India’s objective in the nuclear sector has been self-reliance and the country’s strength comes from homegrown expertise in all areas of nuclear science and
Meanwhile, SP Sukhatme, Prof Emeritus, IIT Bombay, said that while currently less than 15 per cent of the country’s population have access to 100 kWh per year of electricity, India should aim for 4,000 kWh per year as there is a need for equitable distribution with respect to the growing population. “It’s a sad state of affairs even as we sit in this air-conditioned room. Nuclear and renewable energy sources together will help meet India’s future requirement in power,” he added.