The first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu attained first criticality late Saturday night, setting the stage for its commissioning before August-end.

(Our Tirunelveli Special Correspondent P. Sudhakar reports that the plant attained criticality at 11.05 p.m. Plant sources said the operation was very smooth.)

Plant Director R.S. Sundar said earlier that power production would now be increased in stages. In the first stage, the 1,000-MWe plant would be synchronised with the southern grid with 400 MWe in another 30-45 days. Power production would subsequently be stepped up to 50 per cent, 75 per cent, 90 per cent, and finally 100 per cent.

The process began on Thursday night, and the final countdown started around noon on Saturday.