India starts production at Kudankulam nuclear plant

Reuters
A fisherman stands on his boat on a beach near Kudankulam nuclear power project in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files
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A fisherman stands on his boat on a beach near Kudankulam nuclear power project in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India started pumping electricity for the first time from its much-delayed Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday, with an initial output of 160 MW, the government said in a statement.

The Russian-built plant has been dogged by opposition for a quarter of a century and last year witnessed violent protests by local villagers, who said the plant was a threat to their safety.

The start of production at the plant comes in the same week as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Russia. Indian media have reported that legal wrangles have prevented an agreement on new reactors being set up at the site.

Unable to rely on a coal sector crippled by supply shortages and mired in scandals, India is pushing ahead with constructing nuclear reactors despite global jitters over safety.

Hundreds of millions of Indians still live without power and factories suffer frequent blackouts -- an embarrassment to India's aspirations as an emerging economic powerhouse.

(Reporting by Matthias Williams; editing by Malini Menon)

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