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Russia, India Agree on Loan for Nuclear Reactors Amid Protests

Russia and India agreed on the loan terms for two additional nuclear reactors at the Kudankulam power plant as villagers protest the site on the Asian nation’s southern tip over safety concerns.

Talks on funding the second two units at the atomic power plant, which Russia’s state-owned Rosatom Corp. is helping to build, are now in the final stages, according to a joint statement distributed while Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today in Moscow.

Kudankulam’s first reactor will start generating power in “a couple” weeks, and the second may be ready in six months, Singh said.

Nuclear Power Corp. of India, the state-owned monopoly, is building the first two 1,000-megawatt units at a cost of $2.6 billion on Tamil Nadu’s coast. Operations may be delayed during talks with villagers who oppose the project, V. Narayanasamy, a minister in the premier’s office, said last month. Homes near the site were destroyed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and protests intensified after Japan’s nuclear crisis in March.

“We are confident that we will be able to persuade some of those people that their concerns are adequately taken care of,” Singh said, referring to “agitation” by people worried about nuclear safety and the impact on their livelihood. “There is nothing to worry about.”

Russia and India delayed signing the contract for the second two reactors because of the local unrest, Interfax said, citing an unidentified official in the Russian delegation.

Russia plans to extend “billions of dollars” for the expansion, the news service said, citing Rosatom Chief Executive Officer Sergei Kiriyenko.

Nuclear Power Corp. Chairman S.K. Jain did not answer two calls to his mobile phone.

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