Kudankulam crew replaced as protest halts

NPCIL has replaced its tired and besiged 50-member crew at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu with a fresh set of people after those protesting against nuclear power called off their stir.

Chennai: India`s nuclear power plant operator NPCIL has replaced its tired and besiged 50-member crew at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu with a fresh set of people after those protesting against nuclear power called off their stir.

"We replaced the old crew with a fresh set of people on Sunday night. The new people will be replaced in the evening. There are no more problems with regard to supplies of essential items into the complex," Kashinath Balaji, project director, said from Kudankulam, around 650 km from here.

As a result of the blockade by the protestors, some of who were on hunger strike, nobody from outside was able to enter the project site since October 13.

People`s Rights Movement coordinator S Sivasubramanian had on Sunday called off the protest temporarily so that people could vote in the local civic polls on Monday.

NPCIL, or Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, is building two 1,000 MW capacity nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam with an outlay of around Rs 13,000 crore.

The first unit is expected to go on stream in December.

"The desalination water plant, reactor cooling water system, electronics and electrical systems have to be operated," an NPCIL official said on condition of anonymity.

He said the state buses had started plying on Monday. The buses were stopped for fear of violence in recent days.

Anti-nuclear activists blocked the entry points to the power plant on October 13, saying the Central government was not concerned about the life of 106 fasting protesters and demanded the scrapping of the project.

Maintenance work at the first reactor was carried out with skeletal staff. The first 1,000-MW reactor has completed what is called a "hot run" - trial run of the reactor with dummy fuel -- to check all the reactor systems, including steam generation.

According to NPCIL chairman and managing director SK Jain, the work connected to the commissioning of the first unit was going on round-the-clock with additional hands from Russia.

"There are around 150 Russians, 800 of our own staff and around 4,000 contract labourers," he said earlier.

KNPP officials said they were watching the situation as the protestors have said they would resume their hunger strike on Tuesday at Idinthakarai near Kudankulam and the plant blockade if employees go inside to work.

IANS

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