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Days after the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal for setting up ten nuclear reactors, President Pranab Mukherjee today stressed on the need for using clean and renewable energy to meet the country's growing power demand. The president was inaugurating the country's first-of- its-kind microgrid power project at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) at Shibpur here that uses solar, wind and biogas energy to produce electricity. He said he was "happy" that the Cabinet has decided to ramp up power generation by clearing a proposal to build ten indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, each with a capacity to produce 700 MW. Mukherjee said more than 300 million people in the country still do not have access to power. "We have to provide electricity to ordinary people," he said, adding that there is a need to emphasise on renewable energy to meet the demand. While lauding the progress in space science made by India, he also stressed that electricity and clean, arsenic- free drinking water be provided to the people, particularly those in rural areas. Mukherjee also inaugurated the Centre for Water and Environmental Research, which will focus on ways to supply safe drinking water, besides irrigation. Former ISRO chairman and chairperson of the IIEST Board of Governors, K Radhakrishnan, its director Ajoy Kumar Ray, and registrar Biman Bandyopadhyay were present at the programme, besides West Bengal Power Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay. The Integrated Renewable Energy Smart Microgrid Centre at the institute utilises 600-1,000 Kg of kitchen and food waste from the entire campus to prOduce biogas energy. It can offer a complete solution for 24x7 electricity access in regions having either no grid or weak and unreliable grid, project coordinator professor Hiranmay Saha said. The smart grid is a project of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency. The president will leave for the national capital this evening.
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