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The Ministry of Science and Technology has started an initiative to establish separate research centres for nuclear power and space science. It has forwarded a proposal to the National Planning Commission demanding Rs. 6 million to set up primary infrastructure for the centres.

The step follows the visit of the then-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed Elbaradei in September last year. Elbaradei had discussed nuclear issues and areas of cooperation with the Nepali authorities during his visit.

In October, IAEA’s Fact Finding Mission visited Kathmandu and urged the government to formulate necessary laws and establish an atomic energy commission to deal with nuclear issues in the country.

Another IAEA team is set to visit Nepal in the last week of this month to acquire information about the government’s homework. The government is working out to prepare some proposals.

“We need heavy budget to set up centres that will carry out research on nuclear and space science,” said Hemant Arjyal, secretary at the ministry. “For now, we have demanded Rs. 6 million to set up a basic infrastructure for the centres.” According to him, the ministry is approaching international donor agencies to conduct nuclear research in the country.

Though Nepal became an IAEA member in August, 2008, it lacks the regulation and the legislation to oversee nuclear activities in the country.

“IAEA can assist Nepal in many areas of development like health, agriculture and energy if a nuclear research centre is set up,” said Arjyal. “We have demanded proposals from the Ministry of Health, Energy and Agriculture to identify the areas in which we can take assistance from it.”

The government plans to establish a national mechanism to deal with these issues which will include representatives from the Ministries of Health, Science, Agriculture and Energy.

Arjyal said that the establishment of a nuclear research centre could be helpful in dealing with nuclear issues, and said the space centre would provide opportunities to young Nepali scientists to learn about and carry out research on space science
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