Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has selected L&T Construction to build the fifth and sixth units of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), located near Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The controversial nuclear power project, facing opposition from activists for several years, uses Russian technology.
The third and fourth units of KNPP are to start power production in 2023 while the first and second units are currently in operation.
Each unit of the Kudankulam power project is designed to produce 1000 MW of power that is primarily supplied to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and Karnataka.
The project entrusted to L&T includes construction of reactor building, reactor auxiliary building, turbine building, diesel generator building and safety-related structures. According to a statement from Larsen & Toubro, the construction is to be completed in 64 months.
Neither NPCIL nor L&T disclosed the value of the contract, but the infrastructure company said it was in the “significant” category, which means the project value could be in the range of ₹1,000 crore to ₹2,500 crore. The Mumbai-headquartered L&T is building the third and fourth units of KNPP with similar scope of work.
While nuclear power projects are designed with top-level safety features, NPCIL has been taking extra precautions with the Kudankulam project since it is located on the coast. While L&T is to construct the civil works of the fifth and sixth units of Kudankulam nuclear power projects, Rosatom is providing the technology for the entire project.
The decision to go ahead with construction of the fifth and sixth units at Kudankulam may revive the agitation against the project, especially since assembly elections in Tamil Nadu is just weeks away. DMK, the main opposition in Tamil Nadu, has promised that it will withdraw all the cases against those who protested against the nuclear power project.
The BJP, holding power at the Centre, and the AIADMK, the party ruling Tamil Nadu now, will become easy targets if protests against the KNPP are revived. Activists and NGOs had taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court while protests raged at Kudankulam. Ultimately, the Central Government could succeed in going ahead with the project after obtaining the green signal from the apex court.
Activists are still questioning the safety of the project and the success of the Russian technology being used at Kudankulam.
For example, it is alleged that no clear plan has been drawn up to dispose of nuclear waste that will be generated by KNPP and MPs from Tamil Nadu frequently raise the issue in Parliament.
Similarly, the lack of infrastructure to rescue and provide medical treatment to people of nearby areas in case of any mishap is also often emphasised. NPCIL, a central government enterprise, has assured that utmost care has been taken to ensure all safety parameters are met and stressed that the project is safe.