Work resumed at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant on Monday afternoon itself as soon as word came that the Tamil Nadu had withdrawn its objection to the project.
There was no opposition as Indian and Russian nuclear scientists, contract workers and the administrative staff entered the unit premises, 650 km south of Chennai.
Atomic Energy Commission chairman Sukumar Banerjee said on Tuesday there was no damage to the plant though work came to a standstill following eight-month-long protests spearheaded by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) over safety concerns.
“We are very happy that work has started again and there is full force today. The plant is safe,” he said.
Russian engineer Marinev Alexander said, “It is a special day for us.”
The scientists said they would race against time to commission the first of the two 1,000 MW units “as soon as possible”.
On Tuesday, plant site director Kasinath Balaji, who appeared elated, thanked the state and the central governments for giving them the chance to build the nuclear reactor.
“For the past six months it was like being in jail and now we are feeling like free birds,” the senior scientist and head of the plant said.
“We will put in all efforts to make up for the lost time and try to commission the first unit as soon as possible.”
On the other hand, on Tuesday villagers from areas surrounding the plant began marching towards Idinthakarai, the hamlet closest to the plant and the protest epicentre where Udayakumar is holding his indefinite hunger strike.
Describing as unfortunate the clearance given to the plant, Udaykumar said people living within 30 km of the nuclear plant had not been given training in disaster management or evacuation techniques.
“Without doing this they (plant authorities) cannot upload the nuclear fuel rods. If they do that they would be violating the rules of the Atomic Energy Regulation Board and other international stipulations.”
With inputs from PTI