Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Nuclear reactor in Kadapa district: 25 year dream come true for AP

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 10: Andhra Pradesh is all set to enter the nuclear power map
of India by producing "clean energy", making powercuts a thing of the past.
And in the process it will fight climate change and global warming. Two sites
have been identified for nuclear reactors in the State and the Nuclear Power
Corporation of India has already cleared one of the sites.

The State has already emerged as the nuclear fuel hub of the country with
vast thorium and fairly large uranium reserves and the proposed nuclear
power reactors in Kadapa district and Srikakulam districts will further boost
its "nuclear" image. The State has heavy water plant at Manuguru and
Nuclear Fuel Complex and Atomic Minerals Directorate in Hyderabad. The
Kadapa plant is expected to generate 2000 mw of clean energy without
causing air pollution.

The Atomic Energy Commission had long ago drawn up ambitious plans to
commission nuclear reactors in the State. The Nuclear Power Corporation of
India had cleared the proposal for a nuclear reactor at Kovvada in Srikakulam
district five years ago. But things did not move an inch because of political
considerations.

With Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy renewing interest in nuclear
power plant at his native Pulivendula village, the NPCIL and APGenco have
started a rework on the project. The NPCIL is now expected to give its
clearance for the plant near Pulivendula in Kadapa district. "It takes at least
six months for us to give the necessary recommendations for the project
based on a number of factors including availability of water and seismic
conditions," says S Thakur, former NPCIL director.

A nuclear power plant is finally getting shape in the State, 25 years after a
silmilar plant was proposed near Nagarjunasagar. The Central government
had to back out amidst stiff opposition from politicians and environment
activists. The Kovvada project too has been hanging in balance for at least a
decade.

That the Kadapa reactor is going to become a reality can be assessed from the
fact that there has been no opposition to the power plant this time. While
environmentalists mobilised national support to oppose Nagarjunasagar
nuclear power plant two decades ago, this time there's only a murmur here
and there. Neither the Central nor the State governments has taken any
decision on the proposed plant at Kovvada so far.

A group of politicians, however, has opposed the Kadapa plant not because
of environmental reasons, but because of political considerations. The
proposed plant will draw water from the Somasila project and those opposed
to the Chief Minister, Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy, do not want the nuclear plant
located in his native district to thrive on Krishna waters.

"The uranium mine and the mill, which are under construction at
Tummalapalle in Kadapa district will go on stream in 2013," says Atomic
Energy Commission chairman Dr Anil Kakodkar. Once the project is ready it
will supply uranium to various plants in the country.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India has already inspected the proposed
site at Pulivendula and if things go as planned, the reactor will be ready in the
next five years. Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has already instructed
GENCO to take up the project along with NPCIL.

The Sate government is ready to bear 50 per cent of the total cost of the
nuclear reactor near Pulivendula. The plant will add 2000 megawatt of power
to the national grid.

Somalsila Protection Committee leader Jakka Venkaiah said the proposed
nuclear plant will turn Nellore district dry. "The government should not go in
for political considerations. Already the Somasila reservoir is tapped to its
full capacity by supplying drinking water to Chennai through Telugu Ganga.
Any deviation of water will have a severe impact on the ecology of Nellore
district," he said.

The Central government wants to generate 20,000 mw of nuclear energy by
2020 and AP is all set to contribute 10 per cent of it. Andhra Pradesh has a
stalled capacity of 8000 mw of power generation by all means. "Though new
projects are going to be added next year, there's nothing like nuclear energy,
which is pollution-free and clean. Moreover, a small quantity of nuclear fuel
is required to generate large quantities of nuclear power. Electricity will
become cheaper and affordable if we generate nuclear power," said
environment scientist ChV Subbaiah.

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