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Rajani Sankaran to officiate as BHAVINI CMD

IANS 01 Nov 2014, 14:52:57 PM IST

Chennai: With the central government yet to decide on the person to head it, India's fast breeder reactor power company, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI) has appointed Rajani Sankaran as the officiating chairman and managing director (CMD) for three months.

"I have handed over charge as chairman and managing director yesterday (Oct 31). The government has appointed Rajani Sankaran, director, finance, to officiate as the CMD for three months," Prabhat Kumar, BHAVINI's first CMD, told IANS Saturday.

Interestingly, Sankaran will be the first Indian woman to become the CMD of an atomic power company in India even if for a temporary period.

Sankaran is a 1989 batch Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS) officer. She has also done a Fellowship in International Auditing from the General Accountability Office, USA.

Prior to her deputation to BHAVINI, Sankaran had worked as accountant general (commercial and receipt audit), principal director of audit (South Central Railway) and Southern Railway.

Meanwhile, suspense continues in the Indian nuclear power circles on who would be selected to head BHAVINI.

Industry sources told IANS that around 10 persons - from Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR)- are in the race for the post.

The company is setting up the country's first indigenously designed 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, around 80 km from here.

The project is at a crucial stage and is expected to go on stream sometime next year. The fast breeder reactor is designed by IGCAR whose mandate was to design such a reactor.

A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. The PFBR will be fuelled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide, called MOX fuel. While the reactor will break up (fission) plutonium for power production, it will also breed more plutonium than it consumes. The original plutonium comes from natural uranium.

The question before atomic power sector officials is whom the government would pick - whether an IGCAR person who has the technical capability or a person from NPCIL who has the capability for commissioning and running a fast breeder reactor.

If it is the former then perhaps it will be for the first time that a research scientist with crucial technical knowledge will hold the charge of a commercial nuclear entity.