India, Russia to set up more Kudankulam units, new n-plants

New Delhi, Feb 19: India and Russia are committed to set up more units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu, as well as elsewhere in the country, the government said here Wednesday.

“Both the sides (India, Russia) have reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement concluded on December 5, 2008, on cooperation in the construction of additional nuclear power units at the Kudankulam site, as well as in the construction of Russian-designed nuclear power plants at new sites in India,” Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy told parliament in a written reply.

Responding to another query, Narayanasamy said the government has increased its public outreach to allay fears about the plant’s safety. Spurred by Japan’s Fukushima disaster, activists of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) have held protests at the Kudankulam plant, citing safety and enviromnent concerns.

“A multi-pronged approach has been adopted in this regard. Neighbourhood welfare programmes have also been taken up around the site,” the minister said. The Supreme Court last year rejected a plea against the project but asked the government to put in place stringent security measures.

A two-judge bench Monday asked the government and the atomic energy regulator to respond to a petition seeking to put on hold further steps for the KNPP’s commissioning till the court’s directions are complied with.

On the other hand, Russia’s concerns over the operator’s responsibility in India’s nuclear liability law have stalled agreement on Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam project.

Plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has said the commercial operation of the first 1,000 MW unit at KNPP will take place in April.

The company on its website Tuesday also said the commercial operation of the second 1,000 MW unit is expected to happen in December 2014. The unit has achieved a physical progress of 96.74 percent.

Denis Kolchinskiy, chief project engineer of SPbAEP, the developers of KNPP, told IANS recently that the plant is fitted with “active” and “passive” safety mechanisms to provide two layers of protection, and has unique features like a “molten-core catcher” that make for a foolproof safety system.

IANS