India three stage Nuclear Power Program – Notes UPSC Mains

India three stage Nuclear Power Program – Notes UPSC Mains -India’s three-stage nuclear power program was devised by Dr. Homi Bhaba  in 1954.

It was formulated to provide energy security to India. The main aim was to capitalize on India’s vast thorium reserves while trying to improve on its low uranium reserves. India produces only about 2% of the global uranium reserves but 25% of the world’s thorium reserves.

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India three stage Nuclear Power Program - Notes UPSC Mains

Q. What is India’s 3 – stage nuclear power programme ?

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In view of the limited fossil fuel availability with the country, the relevance of Nuclear Power in meeting the short and long term needs of our energy was recognised right at the initial stage. From the very beginning, as a long term strategy, the Nuclear Power Programme formulated by Dr. Homi Bhabha embarked on the three stage nuclear power programme, linking the fuel cycle of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) and Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) for Judicious utilisation of our limited reserves of Uranium and vast Thorium reserves.

The emphasis of the programme was self-reliance and thorium utilisation as a long term objective. The PHWR was chosen due to extensive research and development facilities covering diverse areas for supporting technology absorption.


The three stages in the nuclear program are:

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  1. Natural uranium fuelled Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PWHR)- using natural uranium to fuel Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors to produce electricity and producing plutonium-239
  2. Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) utilizing plutonium based fuel– The second stage involves using plutonium-239 to produce mixed-oxide fuel, which would be used in Fast Breeder Reactors
  3. Advanced nuclear power systems for utilization of thorium– The main purpose of this stage is to achieve a sustainable nuclear fuel cycle.would comprise power reactors using U-233 / Thorium as fuel.