Manmohan Singh assures Putin nuclear plant now on track

Durban, March 27 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured Russian President Vladimir Putin that the first phase of the atomic power project in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, that has seen a series of anti-nuclear protests, will be up and running by next month.

“I am pleased to inform you Mr. President that Kudankulam Unit I will become operational, in particular, the very next month,” the prime minister told the Russian president when they met at a bilateral meeting on the margins of the 5th BRICS Summit late Wednesday.
The first unit has the capacity of 1,000 mega watt. It is being implemented in the southern Tamil Nadu town, near Tirunelveli, by the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India and the Russian nuclear energy company Atomstroyexport.
The prime minister also assured the Russian president, in what was their second meeting in four months, about the substantive progress being made on the other remaining phases of the joint nuclear energy programme between India and Russia.
“As far as Unit III and IV are concerned, we have secured our internal approvals,” the prime minister said, referring to the sanction granted by the meeting of the cabinet committee on security, which he chairs.
The prime minister, officials said, also told the Russian president that India’s National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon has been asked to keep in touch with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev and follow up on the progress in all strategic Indo-Russian joint programmes.
These cover areas such as defence, civil nuclear energy, space and counter-terrorism. The two sides are also committed to raising their bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2014 from around $9 billion now.
During their 30-minute meeting, the two leaders also discussed other issues such as the situation in Afghanistan and Syria.
(Arvind Padmanabhan can be reached at [email protected])