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Report | November 2013

Kudankulam: Reason to rejoice

India´s largest nuclear plant, which was delayed due to multiple protests, has been finally linked to the national grid.

Unit One of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in the state of Tamil Nadu was synchronised with the power grid and is generating 160 MW , RS Sundar, site director of NCPIL, said in a statement. The power will be further raised to 500 MW, 750 MW and 1,000 MW in stages, he added, as the plant clears various tests.

Work has been completed on the 1,000 MW first unit and is nearly finished on a second 1,000 MW reactor, despite local protests that delayed construction.

The development came at a time when India already negotiating deals with global nuclear majors to ensure further participation. India had been hoping to strike deals for an additional two Russian-backed reactors at the same location as India looks to meet surging electricity demand. Japan-¦s 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident prompted India to adopt a strict safety liability law, which Russia argues should not be applied to the project since it was conceived many years before the legislation came into existence.

Russia and India issued a joint statement during the Prime Minister-¦s visit saying they had agreed to speed up work on drafting a general framework agreement on the third and fourth planned reactors at Kudankulam and would seek to resolve all outstanding issues .

India´s liability law says nuclear firms planning to build plants in India must pay the sums in the event of an accident.

Plans for the Kudankulam facility were first drawn up in 1988. It was supposed to open in 2011 but large, often violent protests, by residents worried about the possibility of a nuclear accident delayed the startup.

The plant is one of many India hopes to build as part of its aim of generating 64,000 MW of nuclear power by 2030 - part of a planned near 15-fold rise from current levels, according to the NPCIL. Once the first unit of the Kudankulam plant is fully onstream, the nuclear power contribution to the country-¦s energy supply will increase to 5,789 MW. The plant is the 20th nuclear power station connected to India-¦s power grid. The Kudankulam nuclear plant project attained criticality - the point when a nuclear chain reaction becomes self-sustaining - in July. The second reactor is expected to be brought into service by mid-2014.

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