ISLAMABAD: The budget for the development of nuclear energy in the country for 2017-18 has declined by almost 47 per cent against the expenditure incurred in the outgoing fiscal year.

Documents show that the development budget of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) for the coming year is significantly lower than the outgoing year.

However, in view of vulnerabilities against cyber threats and for enforcing digitised controls, a new project worth Rs35 million has been initiated for the PNRA.

The development budget for the PAEC in the coming year is Rs15.08 billion, whereas the commission has spent Rs28.6bn in the outgoing fiscal. However, of the spending, foreign loans accounted for Rs17.56bn, mainly from China for setting up the Chashma Nuclear Power Plants III and IV.

For the coming year, Rs7.11bn has been allocated for these nuclear power projects, of which Rs6.95bn will be foreign loans.

In the budget, Rs136.64m has been allocated for uranium exploration in Dera Ghazi Khan. The project is nearing completion and the expenditure on it in 2016-17 was Rs475.95m.

Another Rs650m has been allocated for a uranium mining project in Karak where Rs1.75bn has already been spent.

Allocations for other key development projects of the PAEC include Rs118.2m for a seamless tube plant and Rs689.14m for a chemical processing plant in Mianwali, Rs212.9m for upgrading the laboratories of the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology and Rs288m for a nuclear fuel enrichment plant.

An amount of Rs460m has been allocated for equipment for five PAEC cancer hospitals.

The new projects of the PAEC for the coming year include the Gilgit Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy, which has been allocated Rs850m.

In addition, Rs1.2bn has been allocated for upgrading the Atomic Energy Cancer Hospital and Rs300m for the National Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Islamabad, Rs500m for the Gujranwala Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy and Rs100m for the Nuclear Institute of Agriculture in Tando Jam.

Among other new projects are detailed exploration of uranium resources in Bannu basin and Kohat plateau at a cost of Rs230m and site studies for development of nuclear power plants Rs250m, in addition to several other schemes worth Rs500m.

The PNRA’s development budget is Rs321.53m, whereas it spent Rs548.03m on various projects during the outgoing fiscal.

The major expenditure of the authority in 2016-17 was on setting up the PNRA residential colony in Chashma at a cost of Rs345m.

The authority will spend Rs180m for establishing the National Radiological Emergency Coordination Centre.

According to the budget documents, Rs50m has been allocated for capacity building of the PNRA in design assessment and analysis of advance nuclear power plants.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2017

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