Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday officially dedicated to the nation the first 1,000-MW unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).
The event took place via video conferencing with Modi in New Delhi, Putin in Moscow and Jayalalithaa in Chennai.
KNPP is located in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. The first unit of Kudankulam nuclear power plant attained criticality in July 2013. Till now, more than 10,800 million units of power has been generated from the first unit.
The project had been mired in controversies with anti-nuclear activists taking up protests against it, citing safety issues. Speaking on the occasion, Jayalalithaa urged that the second unit also be commissioned as early as possible considering the needs of the fast-growing economy and the needs of industrial and agricultural sectors.
She said the Tamil Nadu government has played an important role in reassuring the local people of the high safety standards that would be maintained at the N-plant.
“I am confident that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India will maintain the highest safety standards and also ensure continuous power generation at the two units so that Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring states can rely on Kudankulam as a reliable base load power station,” she said.
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.
“When the commissioning of the first unit of the project was getting delayed due to local agitation, I took up the matter with the Union government to ensure that the fears and concerns of the people were heeded to and addressed,” she said.
To allay the fears of the citizens, an expert committee was formed by the state government in February 2012. The committee heard the concerns of the local people and reassured them on the safety features of the nuclear project.
Based on the report of the expert group, the Tamil Nadu government resolved to take steps for the early commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and to allocate R500 crore for the development works in the areas neighbouring Kudankulam.
“Due to the confidence-building measures undertaken by my government, unit-1 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant has started commercial operation,” Jayalalithaa said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, by dedicating Kudankulum-1, the country is marking another historic step in India-Russia relations.
“It is perhaps not commonly known that at 1,000 MW, Kundankulum-1 is the largest single unit of electric power in India. In years ahead, we are determined to pursue an ambitious agenda of nuclear power generation,” Modi said.
“At Kudankulum alone, five more units of 1,000 MW each are planned. In our journey of cooperation, we plan to build a series of bigger nuclear power units,” the PM added.