Kudankulam/New Delhi: The first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear plant was on Wednesday dedicated to the nation jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin with both the leaders calling it a fine example of special and privileged Indo-Russian strategic partnership.
Modi while stressing that the 1,000 MW unit in Tamil Nadu is an important addition to India's continuing efforts to scale up production of clean energy said that at Kudankulum alone, five more units of similar capacity each are planned.
Participating from Moscow via video-conferencing, Putin said the unit has been built using most advanced Russian technology incorporating highest safety standards while Modi asserted that India was determined to pursue an ambitious agenda of nuclear power generation.
"In dedicating Kudankulum 1, we mark another historic step in India-Russia relations. Its successful completion is not just another fine example of the strength of our special and privileged Strategic Partnership. It is also a celebration of our abiding friendship," Modi said in a brief address from New Delhi.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa also participated through video conference.
The Prime Minister said the Kudankulam unit signals joint effort by the two countries to build "pathways of partnership for green growth".
Talking about his vision for India's economic development, Modi said the industrial growth should be increasingly driven by clean energy.
"It is perhaps not commonly known that at 1000 Mega Watt, Kundankulum 1 is the largest single unit of electrical power in India. In years ahead, we are determined to pursue an ambitious agenda of nuclear power generation.
"At Kudankulum alone, five more units of 1000 Mega Watt each are planned. In our journey of cooperation, we plan to build a series of bigger nuclear power units," the Prime Minister said, adding, "in our journey of cooperation, we plan to build a series of bigger nuclear power units."
Jayalalithaa said she had always extended support to the implementation of the Kudankulam project while at the same time laying focus on allaying the fears of the local people by convincing them about its safety.
The Kudankulam 1 has been jointly built by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Russia's Rosatom and it had started generating electricity in 2013.
Anti-nuclear activists and local people had protested against the project claiming it was unsafe.
The agreement for the project was inked by former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988 but actual work on the ground started only in 1997.
The unit 1 and 2 of Kudankulam plant were built at a cost of Rs 20,962 crore.
A major share of power generated in the plant goes to Tamil Nadu, followed by Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
Speaking on the occasion, Putin said the unit was built using most advanced Russian technology and is an important component of Russia-India priviledged strategic partnership.
"Kundankulum 1 is an important addition to India's continuing efforts to scale up production of clean energy in India. It also signals our joint commitment to build pathways of partnership for green growth," said Modi.
He said successful implementation of the project demonstrated common resolve by India and Russia to keep the
"ties firm and steady".
Joining the event from Chennai, Jayalalithaa said KNPP was a "monument commemorating the long standing, abiding and deep friendship between Russia and India and that she had supported implementation of the project, at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli district, all through her 10 years in office".
The KNPP had been set up using the Russian VVER type reactors based on enriched uranium and its second unit was expected to start operations later this year.
The completion of the first unit was delayed in view of strident protests by local people, who raised safety concerns, before it became operational.
Jayalalithaa said nuclear power was "clean, green and firm power", which a rapidly growing state like Tamil Nadu, aspiring for higher growth rates and shared prosperity, really needed.
"The dedication of the KNPP is a major milestone in Indo-Russian cooperation. Throughout my 10 years in office as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu I have always extended support to the implementation of the Kudankulam project while at the same time laying focus on allaying the fears of the local people by convincing them about its safety," she said.
Noting that a nuclear power plant takes long time to be built and commissioned than conventional units, she said very high safety standards were needed to be observed.
"The smooth commercial operation of this project, overcoming many obstacles--economic, political and social, global, national and local--stands testimony to the unwavering commitment to the project of the governments of Tamil Nadu, India and Russia," Jayalalithaa said.
Successful commissioning of the project was an object lesson on how the fears and apprehensions of the local population could be and should be allayed through a process of engagement and reassurance and by building community assets and infrastructure, she said.