At home in Kudankulam

Print edition : April 23, 2004

Michael Valednicki (left), chief of general designer representation, Atomenergoproekt, and Alexander Kvasha, technical director, Atomstroyexport. They are among the 24 Russian specialists working at Kudankulam. -

IT is 4 p.m. and Paul is enjoying his swim in the sea. He returns after a while, lolls on the sand and plunges into the waves again. He and the other Russian specialists at Kudankulam have taken to the sea as the best way to beat the heat. The beach at Kudankulam is "fantastic", declares Alexsander Kvasha, technical director, Atomstroyexport Russian Representation. He turns to his colleague Michael Valednicki and says, "Valednicki is a very good character. He is popular among the Indian specialists. They like him very much." And there is laughter all round. Valednicki does not know English and looks non-plussed, but grins when he learns that only good things are said about him.

Paul, Kvasha and Valednicki are among the 24 Russian specialists working at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) and seem completely at home there. They work hard, love the beach, and spend their evenings at their club and in the swimming pool. They go shopping at Nagercoil, 40 km away. Kvasha's wife has integrated herself completely with the local comminity. Says Project Director S.K. Agrawal: "Everyone in the township and even at the headquarters (in Mumbai) knows her. She is so popular because she is totally indigenised in dress. You have to see her to believe how elegantly she dresses in a sari. She has learnt Tamil too."

"Here we have a good atmosphere, an atmosphere of cooperation," said the tall, well-built Kvasha. He added: "The Russians and the Indians are clear in their consensus that we should build this project together. That is our one goal. We are really proud of our customer (India)."

Atomstroyexport Russian Representation will supply the reactors, components and fuel for the two reactors at Kudankulam. A leading Russian export-import joint stock company in the field of nuclear power engineering, it takes charge of organisation, coordination and fulfilment of obligations under Inter-Governmental Agreements and contracts to construct and commission nuclear power projects abroad. Besides Kudankulam, Atomstroyexport is involved in the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China, the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran and modernisation of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. Among its main Russian partners are Atomenergoproekt, a research, design and engineering survey institute, and the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, a scientific and research centre supplying the working documents such as drawings and designs.

Valednicki is chief of general designer representation, Atomenergoproekt, and his main job is to ensure compliance with the written documentation, that is, the construction should be in tandem with the designs and drawings. Valednicki also provided explanations and consultations for the drawings issued by Kurchatov Institute. He said he was satisfied with the results achieved by the Indians so far in constructing the reactors.

Kvasha and Valednicki are proud of the Russian VVER-1000 reactors that are under construction at Kudankulam. "The VVER-1000 reactors have a rich heritage. They have a good ancestry. They have positive design aspects," said Kvasha. Practically all the nuclear electricity generated in France comes from VVER-type units, but the French "call it by some other name", he said.

Russia has sold two VVER-1000 units to China and they are being built at Tianwan. The agreement between Russia and China is practically the same as that between India and Russia. An important difference is that the Russian side is responsible for erecting the nuclear steam supply system of the two reactors in China. The Russians have hired a Chinese contractor to erect the nuclear steam supply system. "In India, the Indian side (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) does slightly more work," Kvasha said.

Valednicki and Kvasha are hopeful of the Russian and Indian cooperation achieving more units at Kudankulam. "We shall be happy to work with our Indian colleagues again in this place."

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