India says pact with Russia for new Kudankulam nuke plant close to realisation
India said a deal with Russia over the new unit of nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, is close to realisation.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, V. Nayaranasamy, told media:"For Kudankulam three and four, with thousand megawatts capacity each, the negotiations are going on with Russian Government, and we have almost crystallised the deal. Above that, the cost of the project and it will be debated for the project as well as the foundation stone is concerned, we will sort it very shortly," said Narayanasamy.
The first two reactors of the Russian-built Kudankulam plant will provide two gigawatts of electricity -- enough to power millions of Indian homes and alleviate a power crisis in Tamil Nadu. The government also plans more nuclear plants.
The government's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board in August 2012 gave clearance for fuel to be loaded into one of the Kudankulam plant's two reactors.
Narayanasamy also dismissed concerns over the safety of the plant, which has been the epicentre of a wave of heated protests, with environmental activists and agitators voicing their bile at the government's apathy towards the dangers posed by the nuclear plant.
"We are running 19 reactors without even a minor accident. And the people who are agitating, I told them that government is very much concerned about the safety of the nuclear power plant and therefore, we have taken all possible steps. But unfortunately, they did not hear and they went on agitating. Because of that, there was a delay of one year and we lost two thousand 22 billion. The power that has been produced, we could not raise it for the last one year," he said.
The protests across the nation, especially in the southern states, forced the plant to delay its planned opening, and were another hurdle for India's troubled expansion in a civilian nuclear market worth an estimated USD 150 billion.
The villagers say waste from the nuclear plant will flow into the sea and kill the fish upon which their livelihoods depend. Worse, they remember the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and fear a similar disaster could cause a Fukushima-like meltdown.
The Fukushima accident in March 2011, when meltdowns at a nuclear plant after an earthquake and tsunami caused radiation to spew over large areas of northern Japan, has upped the stakes once more.
India is struggling to meet surging demand for electricity and suffers from a peak-hour power deficit of about 12 percent, which has become a significant drag on the economy.
India plans to add 63 gigawatts of nuclear power by building 30 reactors by 2032.
(Posted on 16-01-2014)