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'First unit of Koodankulam plant to be commissioned soon'

March 20, 2012 15:15 IST
A day after the Tamil Nadu government gave its go ahead to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, work at the Indo-Russian  project started in full swing with officials expressing hope that the first unit would be commissioned "as soon as possible."

"We are happy that the government is with us. All our 1,000 employees, including Russian specialists, have moved to the site. We started our work on Monday itself," said KNPP site director M Kasinath Balaji.

Thanking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for making efforts to allay locals' fears over safety issues, he said, "We will put all our efforts to make up for the lost time and try to commission the first unit as soon as possible."

Work at the nuclear plant at nearby Koodankulam was at a standstill following eight month-long protests by locals spearheaded by People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy. Security in and around Kudankulam and nearby villages has been stepped up after the chief minister announced her cabinet decision to go ahead with the project.

The situation is being monitored by senior police officials and several companies of the state police have been pressed into service to ensure smooth functioning at the plant. Prohibitory orders have also been enforced in Radhapuram Taluk where the plant is located.

PMANE convenor S P Udayakumar and associate M Pushparayan along some others have been on an indefinite fast in Idinthakarai, the epicentre of the protests opposing the arrest of 10 of their activists on Monday. Their demands include withdrawal of the cabinet decision, a thorough probe by geologists, hydrologists and oceanographers into the safety issues of the plant, release of the Inter-Governmental Agreement signed by India and Russia on liability and conducting of safety and evacuation drills in the 30-km radius of the project.

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