New plans for India's Nagapattinam district will see the set up of a pilot plant for the extraction of helium gas at its gas collection centre at Kuthalam.

Anil Johari, Group General Manager, Cauvery Asset, Oil and Natural Gas Company (ONGC), told reporters that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), Kolkata, would provide technical assistance for the ONGC in this regard.

He said that at present helium, which is widely used in nuclear reactors and space research, is being imported to the country.

$quot;Helium could be extracted from natural gas and ONGC has proposed to set up a pilot plant to try the extraction of helium from the gas collections at the Kuthalam plant. If the experiment comes out successful, ONGC could meet the country's total helium requirement and it would be a major breakthrough,$quot; he said.