Two weeks back, chief minister J Jayalalithaa had said that the project would be ready in 10 days. Reacting to the CM's claim, plant officials had then said it would take at least 25 days more to start production.
Confirming the new deadline, project site director R Sundar said, "The deadline is for the first unit to start producing the entire 1,000MW. Since this is the first reactor of the plant, that too of a new type (VVER), we need to get clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) at each and every stage. The entire production of 1,000MW is possible only in August."
The fuel loading will begin latest by first week of June but that may not lead to production of full 1,000MW immediately. Fuel will be loaded stage by stage and power production will increase gradually and the plant will attain full capacity of 1,000MW in August, he said. Though the state may start getting power from the plant once the generation begins, it may be a while before it gets its full share of 450MW from the first unit.
For a state which is juggling with its meagre power resources, this is bad news. The power demand in the state peaks during the hot summer months of April, May and June, and any additional power is crucial during the period.
After getting clearance from AERB, the plant officials on May 10 started removing the dummy fuel loaded into the reactor in 2010. The officials said loading of uranium fuel would commence after another round of inspection by AERB officials. As part of IAEA inspection, which is mandatory, a team from HRID Ltd, a Croatian company dealing with certification of nuclear reactors, will check the reactor pressure vessel and other systems of the first unit next week. Teams from AERB and NPCIL will also be present during the inspection," Sundar said.
The original deadline for the Russian-aided project, launched in 2001, was December 2007 for the first unit and December 2008 for the second unit. When the project got delayed due to various reasons, NPCIL set a new deadline of December 2011 for the first unit. However, with protests against the project beginning in October 2011 and officials and workers being prevented from entering the plant site, the commissioning date was put off to March 2012. But when there was sign of the protests ending, NPCIL removed the commissioning date from its website.
Source- Times of India