Koodankulam Nuclear Plant Has Salient Lessons For India And Russia via counter currents

By Buddhi Kota Subbarao.Ph.D.

24 March, 2013

Men may lie, machines do not. The substandard components allegedly supplied by a Russian Company for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Southern India caused the Nuclear Plant to become a Speaking Tree. What it speaks now contains salient lessons for India and Russia for the good of people of both the countries.

According to the information released to the Russian media via the official Rosbalt agency, the Federal Security Service, or FSB the successor organization to the KGB arrested Sergei Shutov, procurement director of a prominent machine building plant in Russia known as ZiO-Podolsk . As the procurement director, Shutov allegedly connived and allowed low-grade steel and such other low grade raw materials used by ZiO-Podolsk to manufacture equipment for nuclear power plants. . The information travelled to the rest of the world through the website ( http://www.bellona.org/ ) of Bellona Foundation, an international environmental NGO based in Norway. Consequently, alarm bells started ringing for the safety of nuclear power plants in Russia and other countries including China and India where Russian designs and equipment are deployed .


Koodankulam nuclear power plant is from an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in November 1988 by the then Prime Minister  of India Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev , for the construction of two Russian VVER 1000 reactors of 1000 MW each. Initial estimated cost of the project was US$ 3 billion (Rs.13.6 crore.). Construction began in September 2001.

Under the overall technical supervision of Russian specialists, the construction work has been undertaken by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. As per the existing setup in India, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has regulatory functions in respect of site selection, construction, testing and tuning and commissioning, and during operation, maintenance and decommissioning and also in all the related nuclear safety measures.

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP Units 1 & 2) has been witnessing a series of delays. As per the NPCIL website ( http://www.npcil.nic.in/ ) viewed on April 23, 2013, the scheduled date of commercial operation for Unit-1 was Dec-2007 and for Unit-2, Dec-2008. The website shows 99.66 % ‘physical progress’ as on Mar-2013 for Unit-1 and 93.88 %  for Unit-2. The website presents ‘ Expected Date of Commercial Operation’ for Unit-1 as May-2013 and for Unit-2 as Dec-2013.

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