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In the first step towards power production, the controlled nuclear fission process began on Friday at the 1,000 megawatt unit, authorities said.
“Work on taking the first reactor to criticality stage commenced today and it will be completed in 72 hours,” R S Sundar, site director of KKNP, told reporters.
V Narayanaswamy, Minister of State in the Indian Prime Minister’s Office says the delay in starting operations at the plant has resulted in a loss of over Rs 2000 crore ($350 million) for India.
“The struggle committee is responsible for this as they had misled people with wrong information,” the minister said.
India’s Atomic Energy Regulator gave the green signal for the commissioning of Unit 1 of the plant in southern India on Thursday.
Kudankulam has witnessed a series of protests seeking to halt work at the nuclear power plant.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last year that the protests were organised by NGOs funded from the US and Scandinavian countries.
“There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces,” said the prime minister.
India signed a contract to build the Kudankulam NPP with the USSR in 1988, but construction only started in 2002.
In 2010, India and Russia agreed to build at least six power units.
The project involves 1,000 MW reactors of the VVER-1000 model being constructed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport, a Rosatom subsidiary.