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“New reactors at Kudankulam to see up to 25% indigenisation”

On Thursday India and Russia signed two pacts, which are to set up two more nuclear reactors at the village of Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, where Nuclear Power Corporation is setting up country’s largest nuclear power plant.

The project, construction of which started in 2002, is delayed considerably mainly because of the protest by the neigbouring villages, who are mainly fishermen who were worried about their livelihood.  Earlier this month first unit has reached its full capacity of 1000 MWe and Unit II is expected to go on stream post March 2015.

In an interview Kudankulam Nuclear Plant’s Site Director R S Sundar spoke to T E Narasimhan  about the learning’s and how the project cost escalated twice for Unit 3 & 4. 
 

What will be the capacity of Unit 3 & 4? what will be the cost of the project?  When the work will start?

Each of the units will have 1000 MWe and project cost is estimated at around Rs 39,000 crore as of now, against Rs 17,000 crore for Unit I & II.  It would take around 69 months for the projects to get completed from the time construction starts. Concrete placement will start in early 2016.

The agreement which was signed a general framework accord and contracts to order main equipment, which will enable us to place orders for long manufacturing cycle equipments worth Rs 10,000 crore. These would take around 2.5 years to design, fabricate, test and deliver at the site. These are mainly Nuclear steam supply system, which will be around 320 tonnes.

What is the status of the Unit I & II?

Unit I reached 1000 MWe few days back and for Unit II hot run test will start in a week and commencement of power production will be post March 2015.
 

What are the key learning from the Unit I & II, which will help you in expansion?

Besides, handling external factors (he was referring to anti-campaign), now KNPP’s engineers know how to construct, erect ion, commission and operate the plant. So our dependency level of other people will be less.
 

Does it mean the indigenous level  will be high in the new reactors?

Yes. We are looking at around 20-25 per cent, compared to almost nothing in the first two reactors. The two new reactors will see  indigenisation in electrical systems, cooling system and others
 

There are slew of myths floating about the plant, some of them relate to safety, about the components and others. The anti-KNPP campaigners’ have alleged that a number of facts had been hidden. What is your take on that?

This plant is very safe, there is no doubt about that. This was made clear and explained by NPCIL, KNPP, AERB, both Centre and State governments, experts and various leaders in different levels through media, public forum, campaigns and other modes.

The awareness level, especially among students, have gone up substantially among the young minds.

We regularly conduct awareness programmes and allow people to come to the plant on a regular basis. They are taken around the plant and explained the safety and procedure of generating clean energy. Interesting part is that a large number of women are showing interest in these programmes. In the last 2 years around 2 lakh people were reached through different programmes.

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