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On 17 May, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced reforms that include opening up the nuclear/atomic energy sector to private players but as this space is highly sensitive the government will invite private firms only in the application of atomic energy in the fields of medicine, agriculture and nuclear research.

Government will now invite private firms to participate in the consumer application of atomic energy, including medical isotopes for cancer treatment and irradiation technology for the agriculture sector.

The announcement also mentioned linking India’s start up eco-system to the nuclear sector through Technology Development cum Incubation Centers.

There will also be Research Reactor to be set up in public-private partnership (PPP) mode that would use irradiation technology for food preservation — to compliment agricultural reforms and assist farmers.

Research reactors are nuclear reactors that serve primarily as a neutron source. They are also called non-power reactors, in contrast to power reactors that are used for electricity production, heat generation, or maritime propulsion. Research reactors are simpler than power reactors and operate at lower temperatures. They need far less fuel, and far less fission products build up as the fuel is used.

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