Indian cos among 17 entities interested in partnering DAE for radioisotopes reactor

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Mumbai, May 25 (PTI) Seventeen companies, including those from India, have shown preliminary interest in partnering with the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for setting up a research reactor for producing radioisotopes.

The reactor will be constructed by DAE's subsidiary Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). It is billed as the first research reactor that will be set up under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode dedicated to the production of isotopes, as per an official statement issued on Tuesday.

The DAE will be bearing the cost of constructing the reactor upfront and expects the partner to get a high return on capital invested.

In May 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India will set up the reactor for production of medical isotopes, which will make treatment for cancer and other diseases affordable, and also provide help in the farm sector.

Preparatory work, including design and regulatory clearances is moving at good pace and a formal Request For Proposal (RFP) for selection of the private partner will be initiated in the December quarter, the DAE said.

The first of the informal pre-RFP meetings was held on April 15 to provide an overview of the project to potential partners.

The next informal interaction with the potential investors will be held in July, which will be followed by a formal dialogue in either September or October. The DAE aims to conclude the RFP process by March 2022.

'This session (on April 15) saw participation from more than 30 officials representing 17 companies across four continents, including many Indian corporate houses,' the statement said.

The participants represented businesses across the nuclear medicine value chain such as nuclear medicine, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, medical devices, and nuclear reactor equipment suppliers from the USA, Canada, Argentina, Russia, France, the UK, and two to three Indian suppliers, it added.

The DAE termed the discussions as 'positive' which covered many aspects, including technical, financial and partnership details. Many entities have shown 'keen interest', according to the statement.

Further, the DAE said the facility will be one of the largest single facilities for production or processing of isotopes in the world in terms of volume and will also be the first of its kind PPP effort in the world. PTI AA RAM

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