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Kudankulam reactors 1, 2 to start soon

world Updated: Dec 16, 2011 22:56 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

In a sign of renewed determination to get India’s stalled nuclear power programme back on track, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that he expected Kudankulam 1 reactor to be “operationalised” in a “couple of weeks” and reactor 2 to follow suit in "six months."

Singh made these announcements during a joint press conference with Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.

The prime minister said little about the fate of the still-to-be-constructed reactors 3 and 4, saying that the "two sides have agreed to terms conditions for Russian credit" for the reactors. It was unclear whether this meant the two sides had worked out Russian concerns about India's nuclear liability laws. This seemed to fall short of the sort of contractual closure that the Russian side had hoped for.

But Singh was forthright about reactors 1 and 2. "These are at an advanced stage and very close to being operationalised," he said, responding to a Russian journalist's question about the fate of the reactors. Singh said India was "committed to implementing the roadmap we have agreed to with our Russian colleagues" on the nuclear front.

Singh mentioned the concerns about "livelihood and safety" that anti-nuclear protestors had raised against the Kudankulam reactors, but added he was "confident" that local opponents could be persuaded on these issues.

He noted that Russia was a "tried and tested partner" when it came to the development of India's nuclear programme.

There was speculation the prime minister may have felt obliged to make a strong statement on the reactors given the lack of any tangible accomplishments during the 12th annual summit between India and Russia.