It is just a coincidence that several top institutions are being set up close to each other on land allotted by the Karnataka government, according to sources in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
According to an exhaustive report published on December 16 in the magazine, the work on the project in southern Karnataka began early in 2012.
The 14-page report said tribal pasture land was blocked off with a barbed wire fence at Challakere for “a project that experts say will be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories and weapons and aircraft-testing facilities when it’s completed, probably sometime in 2017”.
The project’s primary aim was to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for India’s nuclear reactors and to help power the country’s fleet of new submarines, the report says.
“But another, more controversial ambition, according to retired Indian government officials and independent experts in London and Washington, is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in new hydrogen bombs, also known as thermonuclear weapons, substantially increasing the explosive force of those in its existing nuclear arsenal,” the report adds.
It further says that New Delhi has never made public details of its nuclear arsenal, which it first developed in 1974.
DAE sources, however, dismissed the report as speculative, saying “there was nothing secret about it”.
“IISc (Indian Institute of Science), which you know is one of the oldest and most venerable scientific research institutions, is setting up a campus there. The DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) are also setting up some of their facilities there,” the sources said.
“It is just a coincidence that these buildings are coming up close to each other,” the sources added.