“The loss of five months need not mean that the time of commissioning the plant should also be delayed by five months,” M. Kasinath Balaji, Site Director, Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), said on Tuesday. With additional workforce, the delay should be less than one-tenth of the actual time loss.

A day after the State Cabinet cleared the decks for commissioning the project, normal work in the plant resumed after a gap of five months on Tuesday, according to Mr. Balaji. Though he said every effort was being taken to commission the first unit at the earliest, he declined to come out with a specific date. “At every stage we need to get clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and hence we cannot specify the date,” he told reporters.

The immediate task of KKNPP was to mobilise additional employees from its sister concerns to set right things that got derailed in the five months after anti-nuclear energy activists stopped the employees from entering the plant. “All the 850 employees and some 70 Russian specialists are back in the plant. We are mobilising people from all our plants to start the first unit,” he said. Mr. Balaji said the plant was only two to three weeks away for actual fuel loading after starting the hot run, when everything came to a halt.

“We had prepared some 300 reports on hot run and were in the process of getting clearance for fuel loading,” he said. The KKNPP would try to get clearance for the fuel loading now, he said.

Stating that the plant had not suffered any damage in the course of time, he said maintenance work was being carried out with minimum staff.

“Major requirements could not be carried out. That is why we are mobilising additional people to take corrective measures,” he said. Some 15 engineers from Madras Atomic Power Station are expected to arrive here in two days.

Mr. Balaji said there was misconception that some corrosion in the equipment had taken place in the plant. When asked about the loss the plant had incurred due to the wastage of time, Mr. Balaji said the establishment cost and the inability to generate power were the actual loss. It would not escalate the project cost, he added. He also clarified that the Russian specialists had not left the plant during the period of disturbance.

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