Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Pakistan to build nuclear power plants

ISLAMABAD, Nov 22: Pakistan has decided to end its dependence on foreign assistance for setting up nuclear power plants and will soon start fabricating its own units indigenously.

"We have the capability to build nuclear power plants locally and if France can manufacture and export such plants why not Pakistan, as there cannot be two yardsticks in this behalf," said Dr Attaur Rehman, minister in charge for science and technology.

Talking to Dawn he said that he has received a go-ahead signal from the federal cabinet to prepare a national development strategy particularly focusing on how science and technology could serve as a vehicle for growth.

"I and my team plan to finalize this strategy within the next three to four months and it would be a document covering sectors like water, energy, communication, power, transportation, information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemicals.

However, he called for increasing allocations for science and technology including for local fabrication of nuclear power plants from the public sector development programme (PSDP) funds. "We should stop begging foreign assistance for our development programmes," he proposed.

China had promised to provide a second nuclear power plant (300MW Chashma-II) at a cost of $700 million. However, no agreement was signed for the project during President Gen Pervez Musharraf's visit to China because Pakistan needed the resources for other pressing projects and in addition Islamabad had put at the top of its priority list closely other cheaper sources of power like hydel, coal and gasification of its thermal, which were capable of yielding returns much quicker than nuclear power plants.

Responding to a question he said that after having formulated recommendations in major sectors, he would be giving a briefing to the cabinet.

Asked about huge funding needed for implementing any development strategy including that for manufacturing nuclear power plants, he said that he would be seeking additional funds over and above the resources already allocated in the PSDP for science and technology.

Asked about plans to attract highly qualified people from abroad, Dr Attaur Rehman said that foreign PhD doctors would have to be brought in to help improve various important faculties. "But we will have to give them big salaries to work in Pakistan," he said and hoped that the government would make available additional funds for the purpose.

He said under foreign faculty hiring programme, the services of 300 foreign teachers would be hired during the next five years.
[----Kindling the flame of Science in Pakistan----]

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