After being plagued by delays, India's first large-size imported nuclear reactor at Kudankulam is in the final stages of commissioning.
"We are proceeding with some final regulatory processes on the Kudankulam project. It is in the final stages of commissioning," Kailash Chandra Purohit, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) said.
Purohit, who took over as NCPIL CMD on Monday, said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) officials were carrying out detailed inspection of the reactor after the removal of the dummy fuel from Unit-I of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.
Officials in Kudankulam said a three-stage review process was underway before the AERB grants permission for initial loading of fuel into the reactor.
Another three-stage process follows after permission is granted for loading of fuel into a reactor. It involves initial system performance tests at low, medium and rated power levels as determined by the stable operation of the turbine.
Purohit refrained from giving a date for commissioning of the first 1,000 MW unit at Kudankulam contending that he was not in a position to pre-judge the regulatory process.
To another question, he said safety would be given the topmost priority in all aspects of nuclear power plants in the country.
The work on the KNPP was suspended from September, 2011 to March 19, 2012 due to protests over its safety and concerns about the impact of the project on environment.
The first reactor of 1,000 MW is targeted to start commercial operation from August and another 1,000 MW would be operational by March next year.
The Kudankulam nuclear power project is a collaboration between India and Russia.
The completion of the project will take India's installed nuclear power capacity to 6,780 MW from 4,780 MW now, which is 2.4% of the total installed capacity in the country.
Currently, the NPCIL operates 19 nuclear plants which produced 32,455 million units of electricity in 2011-12.
India targets to have 63,000 MW of installed nuclear power by 2032.
At present, seven nuclear power reactors are under various stages of construction. After completion of these projects, India's nuclear power capacity is expected touch 10,080 MW by 2017.