CHENNAI: Amidst growing power demand this summer, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday wrote yet another letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reiterating her earlier appeal that the entire 1,000 MW generated from the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) be allotted to the state. The first phase of KNPP is likely to generate power within 40 days.
The letter reflects the state’s urgency in the face of power shortage and Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant ‘s resolve to exert sustained pressure on the Centre in the run-up to the plant’s commissioning .
Jayalalithaa reminded the Prime Minister that she was yet to receive a reply to an earlier letter sent to him on March 31, raising the same demand. She said, “Now I understand that nuclear fuel loading is going to take place in the next few days in the first unit of the plant of 1,000 MW capacity. It is expected that criticality will be reached in the following 20 days or so.”
TN’s concern is that demand may shoot up by 500MW from the present 12,000MW in coming months and result in more outages. With use of air-conditioners in homes likely to rise, consumption will increase, said sources. They expect peak hour demand to touch 12,500 MW in May and June.
The state has been facing a power shortage of 4,000 MW for close to two years. While Chennai city is subjected to two hour power cut daily, the rest of the state goes through a four-hour cut officially and eight hours unofficially. Apart from these, there are also industrial power holidays, once a week. The present generation of 8,000 MW is just about enough to meet the non-peak hour demand. During the peak hours, the demand rises to 12,000 MW and the state is not able to supply it. Though the state has an installed capacity of 7,000 MW wind mills, they are virtually shut down as the wind velocity will pick up only by May end.
Tamil Nadu’s demand from the Kudankulam plant is more than double of what it is entitled to. As per the existing power sharing formula for KNPP, of the total 2,000 MW power to be generated by the two reactors, Tamil Nadu’s share is only 925 MW. But Jayalalithaa, after cracking down on protests against the Kudankulam project, has been demanding that the entire 2,000 MW from both the units be allotted to the state. Her justification is that all major power projects being implemented by Central agencies like BHEL, NLC and NTPC in Tamil Nadu are running behind schedule and the state is unable to even offset this deficit by purchasing power from other states because the transmission corridor is choked. Hence, the state has not been able to buy even the contracted power, running to 1,750 MW, from other states likeGujaratand Uttar Pradesh.
The tone and tenor of her brief one-page letter on Wednesday was unusually amiable, and in stark contrast to her earlier strong attacks against the Centre. In a letter sent to Singh on March 9, the CM, while pointing to the choked transmission corridors and the centre’s alleged inability to do anything about it, had said, “This inaction and non-responsiveness to our repeated requests during this unprecedented power crisis only shows callousness and indifference on the part of the Centre.”
The state is also cut up with the Centre for giving it a step motherly treatment and denying financial assistance in promoting renewable energy projects. Out of the 200 MW Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission programme announced by the Centre last year, Tamil Nadu was allotted a meager share of 7 MW. Despite the Centre pushing the target to 1,000 MW across the country this year, Tamil Nadu’s share is only 22 MW. Given the huge potential for tapping solar energy in the state and Tamil Nadu’s plans to generate 3,000 MW solar power by 2015-16, these allocations are insignificant, the state government has pointed out.
Meanwhile, Consul General of the Russian Federation in South India, Nikolay A Listopadov told reporters at a function in Chennai on Wednesday that Russian and Indian scientists were doing their best to commission the first unit of KNPP at the earliest. Vouching for the safety of Kudankulam plant, he said, a similar VVER type nuclear power plant was inaugurated recently by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin near Moscow.