Mumbai: The nuclear reactor for the first Indian nuclear submarine, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Arihant, was so complex that it took five decades, nearly 50,000 personnel spread over three generations and a lot of money to build it, said Sekhar Basu, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission of India.
He was speaking at the release of the book, Submarine Propulsion—Muscle Power to Nuclear by Anil Anand at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) auditorium on Sunday. He said the book catalogues the important facets of this programme and such historical data should be preserved to inspire future generations. “If one reads between the lines, the book brings out the complexities of the secretive project,” he said.
The book covers the Indian experience of developing a land-based nuclear propulsion prototype codenamed PRP and also enlightens on similar projects in other nuclear submarine building countries.
Kamlesh N Vyas, director, BARC, described the complexities of building the reactor for the submarine and the critical role played by the book’s author who was the then director of Reactor Projects Group leading the Nuclear Propulsion for the Indian Nuclear Submarine Programme.
During the initial days of the project, Anand said that personnel in other departments were perplexed at the sheer number of engineers being “consumed” by the project which had just a code name. At the same time there were technology denials by the international community under the garb of Nuclear Suppliers Group, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and several such measures.
Arihant was launched in 2009 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after being designed, developed and engineered by various agencies, including the Department of Atomic Energy, Defence and Development Organisation and the Submarine Design Group of the Directorate of Naval Design, besides private companies, to be built at Vishakapatnam
Anand’s book Frontier India also has a galaxy of experts from Brazil, Argentina and France who have made contributions on similar programmes in their own countries.
Anand joined the Atomic Energy establishment in 1961 where he did his postgraduation in Nuclear Science and Technology. At the time of retirement in 2001, he was director, Technical Coordination and International Relations Group, BARC, and director, Reactor Projects Group, leading the Indian nuclear submarine programme.