Around Kudankulam nuclear power plant, Nuclear is more ‘Politics’ Than Physics

The Union Government on Thursday clarified that the time lapse in sequential receipts of equipment from Russia and protests at the site had resulted in the delay in the completion of the Kudakulam Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2 (2×1000 MW). The government’s statement came in the backdrop of Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) faulting the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) in execution of the two units that resulted in delay in subsequent escalation of cost.

“The delays in the completion of Kudankulam Units 1 and 2 (2X1000 MW) were mainly due to delays in sequential receipts of equipment from Russian Federation and subsequent local protests at the site. The domino effect of the protests, demobilisation and subsequent remobilisation of resources, various litigation, complying with the directives of the Honorable Court before commissioning of the plant took time,” the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Minister of State PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

He further added: “In addition, being the first-of-a-kind reactor in India of large unit size and with many imported equipment/components, the reviews and regulatory clearances also took time.”

The KKNPP-1 and 2 (2X1000 MW) got delayed for the reasons as stated above. This resulted in rescheduling completion of KKNPP-1 from December 2007 to May 2013 and of KKNPP-2 from December 2008 to October 2013. Presently, both the units are in commercial operation and are operating at their rated capacity. They have cumulatively generated about 23122 Million Units of electricity as on January 29, 2018.

CAG had noted that the initial estimated cost of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) Units 1 and 2 was Rs 13,171 crore in 2001, which gradually rose to Rs. 22,462 crore in 2014. There were major delays in start of commercial operations of Units 1 and 2 by 86 and 101 months respectively due to “delayed supply of equipment or working documents by overseas collaborating partner, changes in design, additional works, erection delays etc”. CAG said that despite delays on the part of the Russian firm, the NPCIL did not initiate any claim for recovery of additional expenses of Rs. 264.79 crore.