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Kudankulam staff once again under ‘house arrest’

It is back to being under “house arrest” for hundreds of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) employees at Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, an official said Tuesday.

“We have not gone to office today (Tuesday) as the anti-nuclear plant protestors threatened to lay siege to the project site, as happened earlier, if we go to work,” an NPCIL official told on the condition of anonymity.

He said there were around 100 employees inside the plant to carry out the routine maintenance work.

After staying away from work for 11 days on the Tamil Nadu government’s suggestion, around 350 scientists and technicians Monday reported for work at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP). Officials say the work stoppages have set back the project by six months.

India’s nuclear power plant operator NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam, around 650 km from here. The first unit is expected to go on stream in December. The project cost is estimated around Rs.13,000 crore.

Villagers protesting the power plant laid siege to it Oct 13 and did not allow anyone to go in. The administration had asked officials of NPCIL to keep away till the situation normalised.

“We were asked by police not to go to office. It was with great difficulty we sent a team of officials to maintain the systems Monday night,” NPCIL official said.

A police officer said: “Yesterday around 100 protestors gave a complaint that the NPCIL is violating the state government’s resolution to stop all project-related work.”

M. Pushparayan, convener of Coastal People’s Federation, told : “We will resume plant blockade if NPCIL officials resume project activities.”

“We are in the process of forming a two member expert committee to educate people on the ill effects of nuclear power plant. We will announce the names once the proposed committee members give their consent,” Pushparayan added.

Meanwhile, the relay fast in Idinthakarai near Kudankulam by villagers continued for the eighth day Tuesday.

“We never thought that going to office would become a national news. Remaining at home is affecting the morale of not only the employees but also their family members. We are not doing anything illegal inside the plant,” said an NPCIL official.

An NPCIL official told that the project team was working hard so that the fuel could be loaded ahead of the fuel loading at the fourth unit at Kalinin in Russia.

“We have a Russian technologist who had earlier worked at Kalinin. We wanted the Kudankulam reactor to be fuelled ahead of Kalinin reactor. But it could not be done as the reactor in Russia was fuelled Oct 20,” he said.

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