Half of the 2,000MW of power that will be generated if the Kudankulam 1 and 2 nuclear reactors are operationalised will go to Tamil Nadu, promised PM Manmohan Singh on his return flight from the Russia summit.
This concedes a key demand of Tamil protestors that a greater share of the power be allotted to their state. Until now, 925MW was to be given to Tamil Nadu. The new formulation increases this to the psychologically important halfway mark.
In response to a question, Singh said, “if it generates power of 2,000MW, nearly 1,000MW will be availed by Tamil Nadu” with the rest going to the other southern states.
Tamil protestors had pointed out that given all other southern states had refused to house nuclear reactors, their state deserved the lion’s share of the power generated.
The PM also said the Centre had allotted 1,000MW of power to Tamil Nadu following complaints by CM J Jayalalithaa of a power shortfall in her state. Further allocations will depend on “availability”, he indicated.
Addressing the concerns among Tamil locals about safety, Singh said the government had gone out of its way to assure that these reactors “are the safest available in the world”.
The PM indicated a feeling that opposition to the reactors was being tempered. The group of 15 experts appointed to interact with the state government, local leaders and the legislature was having an impact, he said, and there was a growing view “this agitation is overdone”.
Officials explained Kudankulam’s light water reactors had to be operationalised if the country’s nuclear ambitions were to be fulfilled. The four reactors, 1 and 2 of which are nearly completed, are the only ones that can come up soon. The others will not come on stream until 2022 or later. Singh noted that India could not afford to have the two
reactors, on which the government has spent Rs 14,000crore, just sit idle.