New Delhi, Oct. 23: A 63-year-old engineer who finished school in Calcutta and has spent 40 years in nuclear research, designing reactors, processing reactor wastes or guiding India's nuclear submarine project, is the new chairman of the atomic energy commission.
Sekhar Basu, who completed schooling from the Ballygunge Government School before studying mechanical engineering in Mumbai and joining the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1975, took over from Ratan Kumar Sinha who retired today.
Basu, as AEC chairman and secretary, department of atomic energy, will oversee all of India's civilian and strategic nuclear programmes. He takes over at a time when India is hoping to achieve a massive expansion programme of its nuclear power programme through the addition of domestic reactors and reactors from France and the US to raise installed capacity from about 5,700MW to over 20,000MW by 2022.
After taking charge, Basu said he would "give top priority" to the completion of ongoing projects, including augmentation of domestic production of uranium, adding that atomic energy's contributions to health, food and agriculture were as important as to energy security.
Basu, who was director of Barc, began his career at its reactor engineering division and then took up the responsibility of developing the nuclear submarine propulsion plant, building its land-based prototype from scratch at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu.
He has also worked at Tarapur, Maharashtra, on reactor waste management and reprocessing. Basu, who continues to guide the nuclear submarine project for its sea-going versions, after taking over as Barc director had expanded its contributions to food preservation and nuclear medicine. India's research reactors produce radioisotopes that are used to increase the shelf life of agricultural products and medical diagnosis and treatment.