Chennai: The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has clarified that the equipment orders for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) were placed with a Russian company in 2001-02.
Replying to an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on June 22, the company said: "NPCIL has entered into a contract for design and supply of equipment for KKNPP (KNPP) 1&2 with Russian company M/s Atomstroyexport in the year 2001-2002."
The RTI application was filed by S.P. Udayakumar, coordinator, People`s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) May 8, 2013.
Udayakumar, referring to a news report quoting Yevgency Sergeyev, general director at Izhorskiye Zavody, had asked for information like the date of placing the orders for equipment, their date of manufacture, and their arrival at KNPP.
Sergeyev was quoted in a report which said that the company started producing the reactor bodies four months ahead of signing the actual contract, and the reactor was completed six months ahead of schedule.
According to Udayakumar, Izhorskiye Zavody is part of United Machinery Plants that had signed a contract with India for construction of two nuclear reactor units for KNPP in 2002.
According to NPCIL, the equipment was supplied to KNPP from the period 2002-2008, progressively.
The quality-checking of the equipment was carried out by many responsible agencies, including NPCIL officials, during different stages of manufacturing, as per the approved quality plan which is part of design document, the atomic power plant operator said.
India`s atomic power plant operator NPCIL is setting up the KNPP in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, around 650 km from here, with two Russian-made VVER 1,000-MW reactors.
KNPP is an outcome of the inter-governmental agreement between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, construction began only in 2001.
Fearing for their safety in the wake of nuclear plant accident in Fukushima in Japan in March 2011, villagers in the vicinity of the Kudankulam plant, under the banner of PMANE, have been opposing the project.
The project, however, got delayed mainly due to non-sequential supplies of components from Russian vendors.
For another RTI application filed by Udayakumar, the NPCIL has said there are no villages belonging to Kanyakumari district within the 16-km radius of KNPP.
Udayakumar had sought details of the emergency plan from the authorities to check their preparedness in evacuating people living within the 16-km radius of the KNPP.
According to the atomic energy project norms, the 16-km radius from a nuclear power plant is defined as evacuation zone or emergency planning zone. In case of any nuclear accident, people living within that radius have to be evacuated.
Activists belonging to PMANE told IANS that there were around 40-50 villages within a 16-km radius of KNPP.
PMANE activists have filed several RTI applications to ferret out information from the Indian nuclear establishment.
"The officials take a minimum of 30 days (statutory limit) to provide us the information, or at times, even more," Udayakumar said.