‘Quest for perfection delaying Kudankulam’
New Delhi: Indian nuclear engineers' quest for perfection is leading to delays in commissioning of the first unit of Kudankulam atomic power plant which is now expected to start operating next month.
Top officials said engineers of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), along with their Russian counterparts, are busy calibrating various aspects of the 1,000 MW unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).
"NPCIL feels that at this stage it is an opportunity to make it as perfect as possible. They want to see what is the precise point where it has to be calibrated. That is why they are going a little slow," an official said.
He pointed out it was for the first time a 1,000 MW nuclear reactor was being commissioned in the country and engineers feel this was the right time to understand it thoroughly.
"They have done high pressure and high temperature tests. Based on that they have to do some adjustments here and there, some fine-tuning," the official said.
However, the nuclear reactor has to be cooled down to carry out the calibrations and later raise the temperature again to see if the adjustments have been made to the desired level, he said.
"These observations basically pertain to flows, pressure, temperature. These have to be within a certain limit. They are within limit only, but NPCIL feels that at this stage it is an opportunity to make it as perfect as possible," he said.
"The observations are within limits, but we want to optimise," he said.
The official said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was also exercising caution and granting clearances to NPCIL "one step at a time".
The first unit has achieved 99.7 per cent physical progress as on December last.
Similarly, the second unit designed to produce another 1000 MW has been pushed to September this year.
The plant has already missed several deadlines since it was originally scheduled for December 2011.
The over 500-day long protest against the plant, spearheaded by People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, citing safety concerns has largely contributed to the delay in the commissioning of the plant.
The original cost of the project, for Unit 1&2 was Rs 13,171 crore and now the expected completion cost is around Rs 17,270 crore.