The development comes even as villagers, including fishermen, in thousands on Monday began yet another siege around the Kudankulam nuclear plant to demand scrapping of the plant's present technology and withdrawal of cases against the people protesting the same.The 1000 MW reactor made with Russian assistance takes in about 70 tons of fuel. The next important step is to initiate the controlled nuclear fission chain reaction which will then generate the heat. Once the reactor has been stabilized it can then start generating electricity which can then be supplied to the power hungry southern grid. The next few steps can be completed in a matter of weeks.
The twin plants of 1000 MW each have cost the tax payer more than Rs. 14,000 crores and will generate power for the next 40 years. When both the units are ready, they can together supply electricity to at least 40 million homes in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry and Kerala, says Ratan Kumar Sinha, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Mr Sinha says this siege on the plant by anti-nuclear protesters is uncalled for.
This fuel is loaded into a reactor pressure vessel that houses 163 fuel assemblies or pipes, with each assembly weighing about 705 kilograms.
The anti-nuclear activists are demanding that the plant be shut down as they fear a Fukushima type of accident will wipe out their livelihoods. Two expert committees, one from the central government and another from the state government have held extensive talks with the representatives of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, a group headed by S P Udaya Kumar and comprising of aggrieved local fisher folk. The expert committees declared the nuclear plant safe.
The Supreme Court is also hearing a public interest petition challenging the safety of the nuclear plant, but has not issued any orders to stop work or put an end to the fuel loading process at the Kudankulam nuclear plant.
People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) leader S. P. Udayakumar said they are holding a siege protest around the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) on the sea demanding withdrawal of the police from all villages; release of their comrades who are in prison; withdrawal of all the false cases against them; and scrapping of the project and and converting it into a people/nature/future-friendly project.
The villagers and fishermen organized the protest 500 meters away from the KKNPP by laying buoys and placing their own fiber boats.
"Ours is a peaceful, nonviolent and democratic protest just like all our earlier programs over the past 415 days," said Udayakumar.
"We will not engage in any kind of violence against any individuals or private or public properties as we do not treat anyone as our enemy. We have always stuck to this principle and treated the government officials and police officers with respect," he said.
On Sept 22, about 60 km away from ground zero at Tuticorin, fishermen and villagers had first laid a siege to the port to demand halt in fuel loading in the plant.
The protest against India's largest nuclear power project at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu reached a flash point in recent months as the police and protesters clashed near the plant since Sept 10 while one person died in police firing in a neighbouring district.
The villagers and fishermen led by PMANE are protesting the plant fearing that it might cause a nuclear catastrophe like Japan's Fukushima after an earthquake.
Source - Indiablooms, NDTV