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EditorialIndia earns a star with KudanKulam N-Power Plant

India earns a star with KudanKulam N-Power Plant


Despite resistance by the foreign funded NGOs, the completion of first unit of the Russian Built KudanKulam Nuclear Plant was dedicated to on Wednesday which brought with it satisfaction and strength.

Pertinently, the power plant in question, not a part of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, has been a center of furious debates and gained opposition from the ones against the idea of nuclear power along with the pretending section.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa video conferenced the whole gig together.

The KudanKulam Nuclear Plant which is being viewed as a symbol of durable Indo-Russian affinity has the 1000 MW plant has the capacity to supply power at an affordable  rate of Rs. 4 per unit. “Five more 1000MW units have been planned at Kundankulam with Russia”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The first unit had attained criticality in July 2013 but commercial production started only early this year. The project was first conceived in collaboration with the erstwhile Soviet Union way back in 1988. Soon the second unit at Kudankulam is likely to attain criticality. Jayalalithaa has been pressing for an early commercial production in order to meet the growing power demand of the State. Given the relatively clean nature of nuclear power, India is set to go in a big way for augmenting its nuclear power capacity through more such plants. Over-dependence on thermal power at present has raised genuine environmental concerns. Upon his becoming prime minister, Modi had raised the target for solar power manifold.

However, the needs of an expanding are unlikely to be met fully from solar power alone. Hence the renewed stress on increasing the share of nuclear component in the total power mix of the country. At present more than three fourths of the existing capacity is coal-based. This needs to be corrected. Advanced economies rely essentially on nuclear power, though in recent years there has been a setback to nuclear power following a couple of accidents, first in Russia and later in Japan. Some of those opposing the Kudankulam plant were ideologically opposed to nuclear power, while others were motivated by no such concerns and seemed to be fishing in troubled waters.

However, at its current level of nuclear generation, India cannot afford to put a moratorium on nuclear generation. In fact, Russia might be roped in to build 20-odd nuclear plants in select locations throughout the country. Again, the Americans, the French and the Japanese are keen to get a piece of Indian action on power reactors. It is a sad commentary on the UPA Government that after the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal hardly any follow-up action was taken to pave the way for actual cooperation in expanding India's power generation capacity.

Though Modi has picked up the threads from where these were left behind by the UPA, something more substantive was yet to emerge. In-principle commitment to buy a couple of American reactors was in place, but even preliminary details remained to be settled. On the other hand, hard-pressed Russians, isolated globally by the US-led sanctions, are pushing hard to get India to clear the way for more and more nuclear plants. Besides, Russia offers firm commitment to supply uranium for the plants to be set up by it. Also, it offers cheap credit to fund them.

Another point in favour of plants such as the one at Kundankulam is the relatively economical rate of power. Per unit cost of power at the proposed plants by the French and the US companies is likely to be twice as high. Ideology and economics should be kept separate. If the Russians are ready and willing to fund and install more nuclear plants we should consider it favourably, though care should be taken not to put all our nuclear eggs in a single basket.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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