NEW DELHI: Four decades after civil nuclear cooperation was suspended following the test at Pokhran the first consignment of uranium from Canada for India’s nuclear reactors has arrived this month following conclusion of commercial pact between the two sides during PM visit last April.
This is the first tranche of uranium for India as committed under five year contract and launch of implementation of civil nuclear deal, Canadian High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel told ET in an exclusive interaction days after the consignment arrived. Canada, following the contract, will supply 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium to energy-hungry India beginning this year under a $254 million five-year deal to power Indian atomic reactors.
“This consignment is first tangible result of the deal and has set the stage for partnership across full spectrum of nuclear energy ecosystem,” Patel pointed out.
A Canadian nuclear mission comprising nuclear firms and officials visited India in October and both sides have explored cooperation in Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors, training, capacity building and nuclear waste management, informed the Canadian envoy. “The civil nuclear cooperation is also in keeping with PM Modi’s commitment of promoting clean energy in India and Canada will be a reliable partner,” noted Patel.
An Indo-Canadian government to government Joint Working Group is holding discussions on expanding civil nuclear cooperation including further deliberations on Nuclear Liability Law.
“While the insurance fund created by the Indian government has addressed concerns over the Liability Law, discussions are being held for a greater sense of comfort,” according to the envoy. There has been no discussion yet on the allotting any site for setting up nuclear power plant by a Canadian firm but such a possibility is not ruled out.
India and Canada signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2010. This was followed by the signing of an administrative arrangement in 2012 followed by the commercial contract to supply uranium this year. Canada has huge uranium reserves. It was the world’s largest uranium producer for many years, accounting for about 22% of world output, but in 2009 was overtaken by Kazakhstan. Canada is now the second-largest producer of uranium globally, with exports valued at over $1 billion per year.
Canada has been India’s oldest foreign partner in the field of civil nuclear energy. However, such ties were snapped when Canada had banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after allegations surfaced that New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
Collaboration in the field of reactor technology is expected to be smooth as Canada had supplied the nuclear reactor CIRUS to India in the mid-1950s under the Atom for Peace Programme for civilian use of nuclear energy. India’s indigenous nuclear reactors are based on Canadian CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) reactors.
Meanwhile the envoy pointed out that Canadian investments in India are increasing manifold across sectors including pension, insurance, infrastructure projects since the visit of Modi to the North American country. Defence is yet another potential area of joint collaboration. “Canada is satisfied with the intention of economic reforms agenda of the Modi government. Intention is important and indicators show that ease of doing business is getting better here,” Patel stressed. With the new government in Canada settling down bilateral negotiations for CEPA and BIPA will also gather momentum in the coming year.
Patel also pointed out that Canada has highest number of Indians as Parliamentarians for the first time in the last election. And 17 out of 19 MPs belong to the ruling party and four out of 30 Ministers in Canadian government are of Indian origin. This would further bring the two nations closer, remarked Patel who is Canada’s first Indian origin envoy in Delhi.