The much-delayed first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) will be commissioned within the next fortnight, an Indian Atomic Energy Commission official said.
“Within this month 100 per cent. It will take about two weeks,” Ratan Kumar Sinha, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission told PTI. “They (technical staff at Kudankulam) have done the hot pressurisation based on certain observations. They want to be very sure that all the processes are perfect,” Sinha told the news agency.
The Kudankulam units comprise of 1,000 MW reactors of the VVER-1000 model being constructed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a Rosatom subsidiary.
India signed a contract with the Soviet Union to build the Kudankulam plant in 1988, while the actual construction started only in 1997 due to due to the political and economic upheaval in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The construction of the first two units of the power plant was halted in September 2011 over protests by local residents who demanded the scrapping of the Indo-Russian project citing the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Protesters had blocked all roads to the plant and would not allow the workers to enter. The work resumed in March 2012.
Officials at the plant received an unsigned letter last week that threatened them and their families. The post card, which was handwritten, was posted from Chennai. A Tamil Nadu police official said that a case has been registered and that investigations were underway.
The letter, undersigned as ‘Makkal Nanban’ (people's friend in Tamil), addresses KNPP officials and says, “Neither you nor your wife and children enjoy the three-stage protection of the nuclear plant. If we desire, we could kidnap, murder and throw you and your family into the sea. Better, you leave the place along with your family to your native places or countries.”
Russian sources close to Rosatom dismissed the threats. “This is nothing but a desperate attempt to scare our scientists and engineers,” a source told RIR. “The Western-funded NGOs will dance with the devil if they have to just to stop us,” the source added. “The New Year’s vigil outside the plant was largely organised by ‘leftist’ students from JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University)...The Americans are now paying off their sworn enemies to block the project.”
The source said the so-called People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) would “try every dirty trick as long as their foreign masters paid them and this includes death threats.”
PMANE leader S P Udayakumar, however, denied that the letter was sent by the anti-nuclear plant protestors. “It is a desperate move to distract public attention. We and our people have nothing to do with this death threat,” he was quoted by the Indian media as saying.
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