India's Supreme Court has paved the way for the commissioning of a nuclear power plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu that has been the target of widespread protests.

Monday's verdict would make the Russian-built Kudankulam plant, designed to help meet a surging demand for electricity, the country's largest nuclear power project.

"The plant has been set up for people's welfare," said the ruling delivered by judges KS Panicker Radhakrishnan and Dipak Mishra.

"Necessary clearances have been taken by the government, and development of the nuclear power plant is important for India.

"We have to strike a balance between larger interest and economic necessities."

Plans for the Kudankulam plant were first drawn up in 1988 and it was supposed to have gone into operation in 2011.

Two of the reactors are now in place but they have come on line amid large-scale protests by locals about the threat of radiation.

The judges ordered the government to submit a final report on the safety aspect of the plant and waste disposal arrangements to deal with the hazardous material.

Several petitions had been filed before the top court by anti-nuclear activists challenging the project on safety grounds.

Source: Agencies