Chennai: Myneni Hari Prasad Rao, considered the architect of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) and its first project director died here in a private hospital due to old age ailments on Tuesday, a statement said. He was 88.
According to the statement, Rao was specially appointed by the then Nuclear Power Board to oversee the construction and commissioning of the MAPS.
Celebrating the silver jubilee of the unit 1 of MAPS at Kalpakkam, 70 km from Chennai, in 2008, Rao had recalled: “We had to lift the generator weighing 186 tonnes. There were budgetary constraints for hiring a crane. So we bought 380,000 railway sleepers and pulled and pushed the generator inch by inch the generator up for 33 ft.”
The wooden sleepers were later sold at a profit of Rs.800,000 (about $20,000), he added.
However, the day the unit was synchronised was marked by a fire accident. The incident happened at the turbine generator and it was Rao who took the fire hydrant to douse the flames.
The scientists found cost-effective and practical solution for the problems they faced. In the process, many things that were done at MAPS before and after commissioning were actually unprecedented in the nuclear world.
“We brought 800 tonnes of heavy water from Rajasthan in tanker lorries to make unit I critical. The lorries were moved at night from Rajasthan at a very slow speed,” Rao then said.
A recipient of Padma Shri, Rao later served as the executive director of Nuclear Power Board, now Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for three years.
He is survived by three daughters and a son.