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License to Kundankulam

India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board will decide on the duration of the operational license to be given to the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) after considering results of various technological tests and reports. “Based on the reports generated, it will be decided whether the unit will be given a one year or five year operational license,” said SS Bajaj, chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

India’s atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is setting up the KNPP at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, with two Russian made VVER 1,000 reactors. The first unit is in the advanced stage of commissioning, with AERB giving its nod on August 10 to load 163 of enriched uranium fuel bundles in the reactor between September 11 and 15.

 “After fuel loading, NPCIL will have to conduct certain tests. Based on the test results we will give clearance for criticality. Following that, raising of power generation will be permitted in stages and the reactor has to operate 100 per cent satisfactorily for sometime,” Bajaj said. The AERB will then give NPCIL the operational license for the first unit of KNPP.

 “The post Fukushima safety measures are more relevant for older nuclear power plants. The KNPP has adequate safety measures to overcome situations like what happened in Fukushima (tsunami and earthquake resulting in total power failure),” Bajaj added.

Cost of delay
The KNPP is an outcome of the Inter-Governmental Agreement signed between India and the USSR in 1988. The project construction began in 2001 and due to the non-sequential receipt of equipment from the Russian Federation, the project got delayed.

After protests by the local villagers against the project fearing for their lives in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the commissioning of the first unit got delayed.

The cost of the first two units of KNPP is estimated to go up from R 13,171 crore due to the Rs 17,270 crore due to delay 

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