| From correspondents in India | September 29, 2009
Article from: Agence France-Presse
INDIA'S Prime Minister vowed that a massive increase in nuclear power generation over the next four decades would allow the booming country to reduce its impact on global warming.
Manmohan Singh told an international atomic conference in New Delhi that the civilian nuclear supply agreement he signed with the United States last year had opened an era for safer, cleaner energy production.
"There will be huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate in the expansion of our nuclear energy program," he said, urging India "to think big" on the future energy needs of its 1.2 billion people.
Singh announced that 470,000 megawatts of energy could come from Indian nuclear power stations by 2050 - a giant leap from just 4,120 megawatts currently produced by its 17 reactors.
"This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change," he said.
An embargo on India's involvement in civilian nuclear exchanges - imposed in 1974 following a series of nuclear tests - was lifted in 2008 after long negotiations with the United States.
The deal has sparked a race among major nuclear companies to secure contracts with the country, which sees increased power production as key to securing further development after 15 years of rapid economic growth.
The Planning Commission of India estimates that about 600 million people - more than the entire population of the European Union and nearly half of all Indians - are not even on the national grid.
Singh told delegates at the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy that a number of agreements were in the pipeline and that he "looked forward to their full and effective implementation in the coming months and years."
India currently relies on imports for about 70 per cent of its oil needs.
Should we re-examine the nuclear option?