The Kudankulam nuclear reactor, which has seen several delays and protests, may become critical around midnight tonight, sources have said. After this, a sustained chain reaction will begin and electricity generation may begin soon.
Sources said that all the Russian-made reactor units inside the Kudankulam plant are safe and working as designed. Once the chain reaction begins, electricity generation may start in about two months, sources said. These will be the single largest reactors India owns.
India's atomic regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), has already cleared the first 1000 MW reactor unit, which will generate much-needed electricity for Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.
A controlled nuclear fission process had earlier begun in the plant - a step towards power production in a nuclear reactor.
The plant had been delayed for months due to protests by anti-nuclear groups and local residents who alleged that the project was unsafe.
The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, which spearheaded these protests, had sent a legal notice to the nuclear bodies who cleared the project.
The Kudankulam plant is an outcome of a pact between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, construction began only in 2001. The project has also been delayed due to hurdles in the supply of components from Russian vendors.