Atomic Energy Commission

India is the only developing country that has achieved self-reliance in the sphere of nuclear fuel cycle activities, amidst several international technology control regimes. With the enactment of the Atomic Energy Bill in 1948, the Atomic Energy Commission was established on 10 August 1948 with Dr. Homi J. Bhabha as its first chairman.

The commission was entrusted with the formulation and implementation of the policy of the Government in all matters concerning atomic energy. Subsequently, in 1956, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was established with the following mandate:

  • Generation of safe, economically competitive electricity from nuclear energy by exploiting the natural resources of uranium and thorium available in the country;
  • Building of research reactors and utilization of radioisotopes produced in them for applications in medicine, agriculture, and industry;
  • Development of advanced technology in areas such as accelerators, lasers, biotechnology, information technology, and materials including the development of non-nuclear and strategic materials like titanium;
  • Encouraging technology transfers and interaction with industry in areas of its strength, contributing to industrial development;
  • Providing support to basic research in nuclear energy and related frontier areas of science, interaction with universities and academic institutions to improve the quality of education and research, and providing research grants to them;
  • Encouraging international cooperation in advanced areas of research and in mega science projects to realize the benefits of state-of-the-art science and technologies, and
  • Contributing to national security.

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), while performing a key role in the scientific and technological scenario of the country, has also been vital to the overall nation-building exercise.                           

Equipped with highly trained multi-disciplinary scientific manpower and impressive facilities, the high technologies generated in the various units of the DAE, besides raising nuclear technology to global standards, form part of national scientific and technology missions.              

The three-stage Indian nuclear power program, charted by Dr. H. J. Bhabha, aimed at establishing nuclear power with resources comprises the following guidelines:

a) First stage – use of natural uranium in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) and production of power and plutonium;

b) Second stage – use of plutonium produced in fast breeder reactors (FBR) and production of additional plutonium/u-233 and power; and

c) Third stage – use of thorium u-233 in an advanced fuel cycle and reactor system (under development).

Progressive indigenization has been achieved from Rajasthan Atomic Power Station to Kakrapar Atomic Power Station and also a high level of indigenization exists in the related nuclear fuel cycle. DAE has also the comprehensive capability to design, construct, operate and maintain related fuel cycle facilities, and many such facilities are operational all over the country.        

Also read : India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme

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