Chennai: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa commissioned unit-1 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant through a video link on Wednesday.
“I have always deeply valued our friendship with Russia and it is fitting that we jointly dedicate Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant unit-1,” said Narendra Modi. He added that the power plant, “signals our joint commitment to build pathways of partnership for green growth.”
“The power plant is updated with most modern Russian technologies. It is not just construction and commissioning of the power plant. It is well-known that Russia is one of the world leaders in nuclear technology and we are glad to share with our Indian colleagues our technology,” Putin said.
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli is the outcome of a pact signed in 1988 by prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev. The construction began only in 2002 due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and became operational in October 2012.
The two Units of the KKNPP, built at a cost of over Rs.22,000 crore with Russian technology, have continuously been the centre of agitation, considered as one of India’s largest anti nuclear protests. Led by activist S.P. Udayakumar, scores of people have been arrested under Section 121 and under the sedition charges Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), since the early 2000s.
The protests reached new heights after a devastating earthquake off Fukushima in Japan triggered a tsunami and caused the world’s worst nuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
Jayalalithaa said: “The successful commissioning of the Kudankulam project is an object lesson on how the fears and apprehensions of the local population can and should be allayed, through a process of engagement and reassurance, and by building community assets and infrastructure.”
The first unit of Kudankulam nuclear power plant which attained criticality in July 2013, was synchronised with southern power grid in October 2013. Till date, more than 10,800 million units of power have been generated from the first unit. Four more atomic reactors are expected to come up at Kudankulam in the future.
The atomic reactor apart from providing electricity to Tamil Nadu, will cater to Puducherry, Kerala and Karnataka.
Kudankulam plant’s unit-1 has tripped 32 times in the last two years and the project is behind the schedule by 10 years.
PTI contributed to the story.