Uranium exploration in Bannu, Kohat approved

Updated June 15, 2020

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Government plans to invest heavily in nuclear medicines.
— AFP/File
Government plans to invest heavily in nuclear medicines. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has approved work for exploration of uranium in Bannu basin and Kohat plateau at an estimated cost of Rs926.03 million and allocated Rs200m for Atomic Energy Commission’s project in the budget for fiscal year 2020-21.

The country is investing heavily for the development of nuclear medicines and radiation-related hospitals and equipment including the cancer fighting centres.

Currently, there are 18 ongoing development projects of the commission and Rs23.09bn has been allocated for these projects in the new budget. None of the projects have any foreign funding, either in the shape of grants or loans.

These projects include uranium exploration in the Dera Ghazi Khan area of Punjab for which Rs140m has been allocated in the budget though the project’s total cost is Rs794.9m.

For the cancer hospital NORI Islamabad, which is expected to be completed by the end of June 2021, Rs1.23bn has been allocated. For each of the Bahawalpur Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Oncology (BINO) and Karachi Institute of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, Rs125m has been allocated in the federal budget.

Government plans to invest heavily in nuclear medicines

Similarly, Rs280m has been allocated for Gilgit Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy and Rs500m for Gujranwala Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy. Both the centres are expected to become operational next year.

As the country is also investing in the nuclear power projects, Rs18bn has been allocated for units 1 and 2 of the Karachi coastal power projects and Rs1.5bn has been allocated for the research reactor-3 of 10 megawatts.

The 3D printing facility being established in Islamabad has been allocated Rs97.43m in 2020-21.

However, only Rs10m has been allocated for nuclear fuel enrichment plant and Rs21m for the nuclear power fuel testing project in the next budget, indicating that work has been stalled or slowed down at these projects.

Other projects, where the pace of work has apparently slowed down, includes the fuel fabrication plant and the seamless tube plant for which the government has allocated Rs42m and Rs32m, respectively.

The new development budget has allocated Rs100m for studies related to the development of nuclear power plants and Rs140m for survey of mineral resources.

There are two development projects for Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), including the establishment of national radiological emergency coordination centre in Karachi, Islamabad and Mianwali, with the final allocation of Rs199.18m. The other PNRA project is related to enhancing the capacity of the regulator for oversight against vulnerabilities of cyber threats with the allocation of Rs150m.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2020