India’s national and local authorities approve the completion of the Kudankulam Nuclear plant

Nuclear Power Daily – Tamil Nadu Monday gave the green signal for the Kudankulam nuclear plant, with an activist saying that 10 people opposing the project have been arrested.

The state cabinet met Monday under Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and decided in favour of the Kudankulam plant.

LA Times – The plan to build six Russian reactors in Kudankulam was concocted in the late 1980s, but the Soviet Union’s collapse stalled the start of construction until 1997. Protests have delayed commissioning of the first reactor, which is 99% complete, and a second reactor that is 94% done.

The postponements have added $500 million to the now-$3.3-billion project, which is partly financed by aid from Russia. Under the deal, the Russian government is to supply uranium for the life of the plant, with India allowed to keep and reprocess the spent fuel, a provision not generally allowed in U.S. agreements.

Even ardent anti-nuclear activists acknowledge that India has a huge energy shortfall, producing 12% less electricity than it needs at peak times, resulting in frequent, extended blackouts.

Late last month in an American science journal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused U.S. and Scandinavian civic groups of funding the protests to hold back India’s development.

That accusation was an apparent cue for the Indian security establishment, which then arrested and deported a German visitor traveling in the area on a tourist visa, accusing him of funding the Kudankulam protests.

Government officials also initiated an investigation of the finances of church and rural charities, alleging that the groups were illegally diverting to protests funds meant for orphans and anti-leprosy programs. Three of the groups’ operating licenses were canceled, bank accounts were frozen, and the visa was revoked for a Fukushima-area resident invited to India by Greenpeace to speak about Japan’s nuclear disaster.

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