The Koodankulam atomic power project is expected to be commissioned in September, capping months of delays due to non-availability of equipment and anti-nuclear protests.
India's nuclear regulator is inspecting the first 1,000 MW unit of the nearly Rs 16,000 crore project, being developed with Russian collaboration, and is expected to give its report in the next few days.
"We expect to load fuel assemblies into the reactor some time in mid-August," Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Ratan Kumar Sinha told PTI in New Delhi.
He said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was carrying out inspection of the reactor pressure vessel after which it would grant the permission to load 163 fuel assemblies.
Each assembly is 4.57 metres long and comprises fuel bundles. The two 1,000 MW Russian reactors will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.
"We expect the first unit to be commissioned by September," Sinha said. The second unit may take another six months to attain criticality.
The cost of the Koodankulam project has shot up by nearly Rs 2,700 crore on account of various kinds of delays, including delivery schedule of certain components from Russia and the protests in Koodankulam against the plant.
As per the original plan, the first unit was to be commissioned in December 2007, which was revised to mid-2010.
This was further revised to September 2011 when work came to a standstill as villagers launched anti-nuclear protests fearing an accident. The protests were called off in March.