CHENNAI, JUNE 20,
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) suffered a loss of ?947.99 crore due to lack of trained manpower that resulted in the delay in restarting a reactor at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has said.
The NPCIL planned to undertake refuelling of the Unit 1 of the plant between May and July 2015 when it was shut down for 60 days. “However, the NPCIL belatedly realised that experience of its own manpower was limited and decided to enter [into] a new contract with Moscow-based ASE for deputation of Russian specialists,” the CAG said in its audit report for 2016-17 put on its official website.
A new contract was signed between the NPCIL and the ASE in August 2015 for engaging specialists at a cost that was 76% more than what it would have incurred had the state- run corporation deployed its own manpower, the audit said. “As engagement of Russian specialists was considered after the shutdown, the NPCIL had no option but to accept higher rate without any scope of significant negotiation in view of time constraint,” it said.
The audit also noticed that instead of the planned shutdown of 60 days, the unit was closed for 222 days. “The NPCIL took 162 days more than the estimated 60 days for restarting Unit 1.
The decision to shut down and execute the refuelling work on its own without evaluating and ensuring technical competency before the shutdown was not prudent,” the CAG noted.
The delay in restarting the reactor led to stoppage of power generation for a long time, and resulted in a loss of ?947.99 crore to the public sector entity, it said.
The NPCIL management, which responded to the CAG’s audit, said it had realised well in advance that technical assistance from Russia would be required and that it had no option but to accept the amount of money demanded by the ASE as it alone was capable of executing the work. The CAG, however, insisted that the NPCIL did not properly assess the level of expertise needed for refuelling before shutting down the reactor.
“Though the NPCIL claimed that the delay in restarting the plant was due to the time taken for repairing various equipment, the fact remains that despite Russian manpower presence at the site, the NPCIL took 162 more days for restarting the Unit I, resulting in revenue loss to the tune of ?947.99 crore,” the auditor said.