Kaiga 2, a 220 MWe PHWR reactor India has built without outside help, reached criticality on 24 September, following final safety tests run by engineers on 8 September. Located deep within the forests of southern India, the reactor was built while India was under international sanctions after conducting nuclear tests in 1974. Sanctions were extended after a second round of nuclear tests last year.
“Not a single valve or unit is foreign,” said V K Sharma, project director. The sanctions dried up the supply of everything from valves to software.
Some 3000 workers are working on the reactor in Kaiga, Karnataka State, on the Kali river, 500 km southeast of Bombay. Like most Indian reactors, the Kaiga plant will use uranium mined in India.
The electricity produced will be supplied to the southern grid which covers Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Goa. Four more reactors, including the one at Kaiga, are under construction. A 220 MW reactor in Rajasthan is expected to go critical in October, followed by two others in 2000.
Work is also underway on two of India’s first 500 MWe reactors located near Bombay and a report will be submitted by Russia on the technology it has pledged to provide next year on two 1000 MWe reactors. India signed a $2.6 billion contract with Russia in June 1998 to buy the reactors.