Tirunelveli: Amid tight security, Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant returned to full strength on Tuesday after Tamil Nadu government gave the go-ahead to the stalled Indo-Russian project with officials hoping the first unit would be commissioned "as soon as possible."

"We are happy that the government is with us. All our 1,000 employees, including Russian specialists, have moved to the site. We started our work yesterday itself," KNPP Site Director M Kasinath Balaji said, a day after Jayalalithaa government gave the green light to the protest-hit plant.

"We will put all our efforts to make up for lost time and try to commission the first unit as soon as possible," he said.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr Sukumar Banerjee said there was no damage to the plant after work came to a standstill following eight month-long protests by locals spearheaded by People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy(PMANE) over safety concerns.

"We are very happy work has started again and there is full force on Tuesday. The plant is definitely very safe. There is no damage to the plant," he said.

A Russian engineer Marinev Alexander said, "Today is a special day for us."

PMANE convenor S P Udayakumar and associate M Pushparayan along with some others have been on an indefinite fast in Idinthakarai, the epicentre of the protests, opposing the arrest of 10 of their activists yesterday. Police launched a crackdown on the protesters arresting 180 of them since yesterday.

Describing as unfortunate the clearance given to the plant, Udaykumar said people in the 30-km radius of the nuclear plant have not been trained with any disaster training or evacuation training. "Without doing this they (plant authorities) cannot upload the nuclear fuel rods. If they do that they would be violating the rules of the Atomic Energy Regulation Board and other international stipulations," he said stressing on the importance of disaster training.

Udaykumar said the Centre and the state government will be held liable for this "criminal activity" if they decide to load the fuels rods without preparing the people with disaster training.

Security in and around Kudankulam and nearby villages has been stepped up and the situation is being monitored by senior police officials. Several companies of state police have been pressed into service to ensure smooth functioning at the plant.

Prohibitory orders have also been enforced in Radhapuram Taluk where the plant is located.

Police said it was holding talks with the locals and were confident of persuading them to withdraw their agitation against the project.

Police said they did not want to be 'agressive' with the people, but convince them of the necessity to get the plant commissioned, not only in the interest of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts, but for the entire state.

(Agencies)