Power cuts won't disrupt Jaipatur N-plant's working
19 July 2011, Hindustan Times
RAWATBHATA (RAJASTHAN): The imported reactors at the proposed 9,900 mega watt Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant in Ratnagiri district will be able to function smoothly despite an indefinite power failure. To strengthen safety systems, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited has asked French company Areva to install additional safeguards in the reactor design -measures to deal with power failure and special diesel generators that can be air-cooled in addition to the existing passive safety systems to counter external events such as floods, tsunami, terrorist attach or an air crash. The company is supplying six European Pressurised Reactors for the Jaitapur plant. “France is making special arrangements for Jaitapur, “said SK Jain, chairman and managing director, Nuclear Power Corporation, on Monday.
These measures are being taken after the Fukushima nuclear accident in March. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) sent a five member expert team, headed by former AEC chairman MR Srinivasan, to France and Finland to study EPR technology, delay in constructing the plant in Finland and cost overruns by Areva. “We have put down our specifications in a document. One of the requirements is consideration of failure of electricity coming from the grid and also diesel generator plants. We know that our grids fail at times, “said SA Bharadwaj, director, technical, Nuclear Power Corp. “The French said they would keep a back up for a two hour power failure. But we asked them to consider indefinite failure.
“The team spoke to regulators in both France and Finland, studied the design and submitted a report to the AEC and supplied reasonable explanation, “said Jain. Addressing controversies such as EPR technology as being unproven, Jain said the EPRs in Jaitapur would not be untested by the time the first two units start operating by 2020. “By then, there will be four such reactors in operation; two in China, one each in Finland and France, “he added. Bharadwaj said that the construction of EPR has been delayed because Finland has not constructed a reactor in the last 15 years. “There was a lack of technical know-how. They kept making mistakes and going back to fix them, “said Bharadwaj. Other members of the panel comprised former AEC chairman Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, SK Sharma and former chairperson of the electricity authority HL Bajaj.
'Stop work on Jaitapur project'
10 June 2011, Hindustan Times
MUMBAI: Trouble is once again brewing in Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district. Local residents opposing the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant met the district collector earlier this week demanding that the ongoing work at the plant site in Madban be stopped. “We made a representation to the collector asking him to direct a stop-work notice on the construction of the boundary wall. Workers are also digging a bore well, which is a violation of the conditions set during the environmental clearance for the project, “said Amjad Borkar who is spearheading the protest by the local fishing community.
Work on building the boundary wall restarted in mid-May under heavy police protection, a month after violent protests on the plant site forced workers to flee. “We have given the collector 15 days to stop the work. If that doesn't happen, we will be forced to carry out a demonstration. We are yet to decide our strategy,“ said Pravin Gavankar, Madban resident.
On April 18, 300 locals led by Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi had burned machinery, electronic material and dry grass on the plateau following which police resorted to lathicharge. Subsequently, violent protests also broke out in the neighbouring fishing community of Sakhri Nate where Tabrez Sayekar, 30, was killed in police firing. Collector MB Gaikwad was not available for comment.
But confirming that villagers had put forth a stop-work demand, an official from the collector's office requesting anonymity said, “Since it is a central government project, we cannot issue orders to stop work. Work will continue.
Jaitapur farmers to get highest compensation
7 May 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: A week after a successful meeting between prime minister Manmohan Singh and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in the presence of Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh over the controversial nuclear power project, the highest-ever compensation is on the cards for Jaitapur’s farmers.
A senior revenue official told TOI on Friday that in view of specific recommendations of the Ratnagiri district administration, a comprehensive package was on cards for the farmers. “It has been proposed to offer ` 20-22 lakh per hectare to the farmers. We will place the proposal before the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for approval. Since it’s a prestige issue, we will ensure that the farmers get the highest compensation,” he said.
It has been proposed to acquire 938 hectares for the 10,000 mw nuclear power project in Jaitapur. Since the land is barren, as per provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, the farmers are eligible for ` 50,000 to ` 2.5 lakh per hectare. But, in view of the massive agitation launched by local farmers, it was proposed to enhance the amount to ` 8-10 lakh. Now, it has been proposed to offer ` 20-22 lakh. In addition, NPCIL will provide each family member a job or an additional compensation of ` 5 lakh.
Nuclear body reaches out to TISS on Jaitapur
17 May 2011, Times of India
NEW DELHI: The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has promised to make a presentation on the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant project before the faculty and students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It has suggested that it could give a detailed presentation in June and take TISS students and faculty for a site visit to the Tarapur plant.
The students of the Mumbai institute had handed miniature anti-nuclear project placards to Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh recently. NPCIL has also set up a committee under the head of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to study marine ecology and bio-diversity in a 10-kilometre radius of the proposed project site in Jaitapur. The study will not be used to alter the decision to have the project at the site but will submit a comprehensive marine and bio-diversity management plan in one year.
The move by NPCIL to engage with TISS comes after Ramesh wrote to the corporation asking it to improve its ‘public communication’ and talk to its next door neighbours—the premier institute. NPCIL, which has been indirectly blamed by Ramesh for not adequately handling protests, has reacted quickly to the minister’s suggestion this time and reached out to TISS.
Ecology around Jaitapur nuke plant to be studied
17 May 2011, Hindustan Times
NEW DELHI: Five months after the 9,990 MW Jaitapur nuclear power plant got environment clearance, its impact on local marine ecology and bio-diversity will be studied. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), on Monday, issued a letter of intent to five public sector institutions for an intensive ecological study prompting critics to ask why the study was not done before the environment clearance. The studies are being conducted as they are among 35 riders placed when environment minister Jairam Ramesh cleared the project in November 2010.
These conditions were based on the environment impact assessment (EIA) report by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which had failed to study the project's implications on local ecology. “It is an admission that the (environment) ministry's environment clearance was faulty, “said Praful Bidwai, who runs the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace.
Impact on marine life can be gauged from the fact that NEERI's report raises the possibility of an up to five degree Celsius rise in sea temperature even though the Bombay Natural History Society, anchoring the study, said even a 0.5 degree Celsius rise can play havoc. Global scientific institutions have found an increase in sea acidity levels because of temperature rise due to global warming. “No one knows what the impact of waste generated and radiation on the sea will be, yet the project has got the go-ahead, “Bidwai said.
The study costing ` 5.86 crore will be completed in a year and will cover a 10-km radius around the plant.
The five institutions have also been asked to prepare composite marine and bio-diversity management plans for the area to be studied. The NPCIL has admitted a public relations nightmare and has decided to nominate experts in Social Science and Environment to the corporation's advisory committee. Ramesh claimed NPCIL's communication skills were poor after he faced protest by students of Tata Institute for Social Sciences at Mumbai last week.
City to host Jaitapur tribunal
17 May 2011, Hindustan Times
MUMBAI: An independent people's tribunal will be held in the city this week to record the public's views on the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant in Ratnagiri district. Over three days, starting May 19, former chief justices AP Shah and SD Pandit will record the views of villagers, scientists, nuclear experts, social activists and environmentalists at St Xavier's College.
The Lokshasan Andolan, organiser of the tribunal, has sent invites to 60 project proponents such as ministers and officials from the government, atomic energy department and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. The tribunal will be held almost two months after the two judges were restrained from holding a public hearing, against the 9,900 MW project, in Mithgawane, one of the project-affected villages.
“We have been charged with not cooperating with the government on discussions about the plant. We have not met the government because they are biased and we will not get a chance to depose, “said justice (retired) PB Sawant. “Therefore, we decided on an independent commission which will accept and record both viewpoints. But no official has responded yet. “The tribunal will examine both the viewpoints and the documents related to the issue. The report will be prepared in two months. Apart from the radiation and safety aspects of nuclear energy, the depositions will cover issues of land acquisition, alleged repression along with safety and viability of the proposed Jaitapur plant.
“In 2004, the government revoked an emergency clause and started the land acquisition process without listening to villagers' grievances. We are now in 2011 and nothing has happened. What was the need then for an emergency clause, “said Vaishali Patil, social activist. While the tribunal will be conducted over three days, there could be another session if more project-affected-people from other nuclear plants or experts want to put forth their viewpoints. “If the report is pro-project, we will accept it. But we will decide our strategy on how to take the agitation forward, “said justice Sawant.
CM rules out rethink on Jaitapur plant
21 April 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday ruled out any review of the controversial Jaitapur nuclear power project. “Since the state needs the power, there is no question of abandoning the proposal. We are determined to complete the project and that too on schedule,” Chavan told TOI.
However, he said the state was ready to reconsider its compensation package for affected villagers.
Meanwhile, the body of Tabrez Sayekar (30), who was killed in Monday’s police firing, was buried even as emotions ran high. However, peace returned to Ratnagiri although the Shiv Sena vowed to step up its agitation.
CM FIRM ON BUILDING JAITAPUR N-PLANTS
21 April 2011, Times of India
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said that there was absolutely no room for a rethink on the multi-crore, 9,900-mw Jaitapur nuclear power project, despite indications that the Shiv Sena was all set to intensify its agitation against the project. The CM’s statement came a day after a bandh crippled Ratnagiri district and two days after a Sakhri Nate villager was killed in police firing.
However, the CM said the state was ready to reconsider its compensation package for affected villagers. Sources in the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) also said the firm’s compensation could be reconsidered. “The Centre granted environmental clearance to the six nuclear power plants in November. We are in possession of the entire land required for the prestigious project. Since the state needs the power, there is no question of abandoning the proposal. We are determined to complete the project and that too on schedule,” Chavan told TOI. When asked if he would discuss the proposal with Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, Chavan said there was no need for that right now. “A week ago he spoke to me. I explained to him why the nuclear plants were needed. In my opinion, there is no safety threat, since the entire project would be in accordance with international standards. All security aspects would be implemented in letter and spirit,” said Chavan.
On the rehabilitation package, Chavan said he has already visited Jaitapur and interacted with the villagers, but if it was needed he was ready for fresh discussions. “Last month, I was in Jaitapur and met the villagers. Later, I convened two separate meetings to discuss the rehabilitation package. Apparently, they did not turn up. Unless we discuss it, we can’t decide the rehabilitation package. In my opinion, there should be no politics involved in developmental works,” Chavan said. A senior state official said the government promised a compensation of ` 14.85 crore to 2,035 account holders of whom 168 account holders have accepted compensation totaling ` 1.38 crore. “We have acquired 938 hectares of land and are prepared to pay compensation totaling ` 14.85 crore. In addition, NPCIL has agreed to provide a job to one member of each family or pay ` 5 lakh. Apparently, the farmers’ demand is for ` 10 lakh per hectare. We feel that the state’s package can be negotiated to protect the interests of the farmers,” he said. Sources said the farmers presently get around ` 3 lakh a heactrae. NPCIL sources also said they were ready to amend their compensation package too.
The state official said political parties, particularly the Shiv Sena, stepped up their agitation after Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh granted environmental clearance for the project on November 28, 2010. “The Jaitapur decision was taken after considering all aspects, particularly the possibility of an earthquake. In our opinion, the situation in Japan is different and we don’t see a repeat of Japan anywhere in India,” he said. “Ramesh has advised a safety audit of all proposed projects.”
A senior Congress minister said it appears that the Sena wants to settle scores with former party man Narayan Rane. “We are paying the price for a political battle between the Sena and Rane,” he said.
Land acquired | 938 hectares
Compensation | 14.85 cr for 2,035 account holders
Already paid | 1.38 cr to 168 account holders
Compensation | Job for one person in each family or cash of 5 lakh
Farmers currently get around 3 lakh a hectare, but want 10 lakh
Both state and NPCIL are willing to reconsider.
Press pause button on new nuclear plants, says Jairam
24 April 2011, Times of India
Ludhiana: With the earthquake-tsunami triggering a nuclear crisis in Japan, Union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said the government should press the “pause button” on setting up nuclear power plants. Stating that people’s concerns must be addressed and a transparent nuclear power policy put in place before such plants are set up, he claimed the prime minister too shared his view. “The nuclear policy should not be cloaked in secrecy, but made after taking people into confidence. I am not advocating fast forward or reverse mode on the policy, but only pause button for the time being,” he said.
Criticizing the police firing on antinuclear plant protesters in Jaitapur, where one person was killed, the minister said, “In a democracy, people have the right to protest. Their concerns are quite realistic, and after the Japan tragedy, we need to address these concerns. Whatever has happened in Japan should be taken as a wake-up call by the entire world.” He, however, clarified that he did not favour abandoning the nuclear power policy altogether. “I am not advocating that India should abandon the N-power option. But I want discussion, particularly on safety systems and how to strengthen them. People’s fears have to be removed.”
Cops detain over 100 N-plant protesters
Jaitapur Agitators Let Off After Warning
Simit Bhagat TNN
Thane: The Boisar police on Saturday detained 134 protesters, who had come to participate in the three-day Tarapur to Jaitapur rally, at Kurgaon, to protest their confinement they went on a hunger strike. Later, they were let off with a warning. The police detained the demonstrators mainly students, activists, scientists, former judges and environmentalists—as a preventive measure under section 68 and 69 of the Bombay Police Act. Some of the prominent detainees included Justice PB Sawant, Justice B G Kolse-Patil, H M Desarda, former member of the Maharashtra State Planning Board and activist Vaishali Patil.
“We told them not to continue with the rally till Jaitapur,” said Chandrakant Pawaskar, additional police superintendent, Thane (rural). Activists complained that their drivers were threatened by the police. “Even before the rally, we expected them to arrest us and not allow us to protest against the nuclear plant. The police may not allow us to enter Ratnagiri district and we will face similar trouble over the nexttwodays,” saidH M Desarda. “The government wants citizens to be unaware about the hazards of nuclear energy and will ensure that such rallies do not take place,” said Baneshwar Manna, another protester, who had come from West Bengal.
Dharampal Sinariya, a resident of Haryana affected by a proposed nuclear plant, added, “If the government is so sure that nuclear energy is safe, then why do we need to debate the nuclear liability bill?” However, at the rally near Tarapur, activists and former judges criticized the government for “dumping unsafe energy on the people of India”. “Even after the tragedy in Japan, the government does not want to accept that nuclear energy can be disastrous,” said Justice P B Sawant.
CM TO MEET PM FOR CLARITY ON JAITAPUR
26 April 2011, Times of India
The Maharashtra government is literally scrambling for clarity after Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh’s volte-face on the 9,900 MW nuclear plant at Jaitapur followed by power minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s plea to go slow on the project. Both these statements have come as a nasty surprise to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan who will be calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
A senior official said: “It is a central project and the state government is acting as a facilitator, particularly for acquiring the land. At this juncture, when the state administration is geared to meet the challenges, the statements of Ramesh and Shinde have created confusion. Now, Chavan will brief the PM on the situation.’’
Chavan held a marathon meeting on Monday with deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, industries minister Narayan Rane, home minister R R Patil, chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad and senior bureaucrats. The official added: “The statements made by two Union ministers have created confusion among senior state leaders. Under such circumstances, we expect the Centre, particularly the prime minister, to clarify his stand on the multi-crore nuclear power plant.”
At the meeting, senior leaders decided to deploy additional companies of the state reserve police force, and set up education and information centres at Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Jaitapur, said officials. They added that the state government’s ‘panicked’ reaction is understandable given that up until a few days ago there were no doubts on the Jaitapur nuclear plant. Barely a fortnight ago, Ramesh had stated that there was no rethinking on the plant, and the Centre would commission the project on schedule. But on April 23, while addressing journalists at Ludhiana, Ramesh had said it would be better of if the Jaitapur project was stayed until the Centre came out with a transparent nuclear power policy. “In view of the atmosphere of insecurity, it will be better if we stay the project for some time. We are not withdrawing from the project, but we are not in a hurry to commission it,” Ramesh had said.
A Congress minister said: “We are surprised by Ramesh’s statements. In November, he granted environmental clearance. But unexpectedly on April 23, he declared the project should be stayed.” The minister added that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited has agreed to review the compensation packages for affected people.
‘Shifting plant is not a viable option’
Pune: Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee on Monday said Jaitapur was the appropriate site for the proposed nuclear project and that shifting it to some other place would not be a viable option. He said, “A lot of research was done before finalizing the site. Years have gone in studying different sites.” According to Banerjee, the damage caused to the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan was being exaggerated. When asked about the nuclear waste likely to be generated at Jaitapur, he said that though waste disposal was an issue, “the quantity of nuclear waste would be very small”.
Hole in Jaitapur backyard to predict quakes
27 April 2011, Times of India
NEW Delhi: About 300 km from the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant, Indian scientists are all set to drill an 8-km hole in the earth’s crust for prediction of earthquakes. Announcing this, minister of state for earth sciences Ashwani Kumar on Tuesday, however, denied that the choice of location had anything to do either with the proposed plant or the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The study costing ` 300 crore will be carried out in the quake-prone Koyna region in association with the International Continental Drilling Programme.
“One of the reasons that make prediction of earthquakes difficult is that both the origin and the timing have to be calculated to perfection. By drilling the hole, scientists will be able to monitor disturbances in the subsoil and thus predict both,” a senior official of the ministry said. The entire project will take two-five years but the first findings will start to come in within eight months of commencement of work. The Koyna region, home to a large hydel project, is a highly active seismic zone and would provide scientists an opportunity to study earthquakes real time and also help in identifying its early signs. Provisions for the project will be made in the 12th five year plan. Explaining the reasons for the choice of Koyna, scientists described the region as unique as very severe earthquakes continue to occur there four decades after the initial spurt in activity.
It’s official: Jaitapur nuke project is on
27 April 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: The Jaitapur nuclear plant will come up, and at the proposed location.
This was revealed by CM Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday after his meeting with the PM and environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh. Chavan said, “The Centre is determined to implement the project in a time-bound manner.” But with the Japan crisis leading to fears, each Jaitapur reactor will have its own safety and operation system. Meanwhile, the Centre has decided to introduce a bill in the next session of Parliament to create an independent and autonomous nuclear regulatory body.
Nothing can stop Jaitapur plant: CM
27 April 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday put to rest all the speculation about the fate of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, saying that the “Centre is determined to implement the project in a time-bound manner”. Activists and villagers from Jaitapur as well as surrounding areas are opposed to the plant. “Following the Fukushima incident in Japan, it has now been proposed that more safety measures will be put in place for the plant,” said Chavan.
The CM had a marathon meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh and minister of state in PMO V Narayanswamy on Tuesday. Chavan had called on the PM after Ramesh’s flip-flop on the plant, which came close on the heels of Union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s remark that the project should be put on hold. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, industries minister Narayan Rane and home minister R R Patil had expressed their displeasure over the statements made by Ramesh and Shinde.
The state government recently organized a special presentation for all the elected representatives in which noted atomic energy expert Anil Kakodkar had a prolonged interaction with the legislators on the issue. “Initially, Uddhav Thackeray was in favour of the project provided the farmers were given adequate compensation. We are surprised by the Shiv Sena’s volte-face. We are prepared for a dialogue with the farmers on compensation and will ensure that they get the best deal,’’ Chavan said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, said Narayanswamy, the status of the Jaitapur project as well as safety concerns arising out of the nuclear accident at Fukushima were reviewed. “Several aspects of India’s nuclear energy programme were discussed. The PM underscored that the safety of nuclear plants is a matter of highest priority and the department of atomic energy as well as the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) must improve their communication with the public,’’ he said.
On the decisions taken after the meeting, Narayanswamy said, each reactor in Jaitapur will have its own safety system. “The Centre will introduce a bill in the next session to create an independent and autonomous nuclear regulatory authority. Preliminary reports of the six committees set up by the Centre after the Fukushima accident to review the safety of India’s nuclear plants will be made public. Experts will be consulted to ensure the highest levels of safety for the nuclear plants and there will be complete transparency in the implementation of the nuclear power programme.” Chavan assured the PM that all efforts will be made to engage local communities and address their concerns in a credible manner. “It was agreed that livelihood of local fishermen will continue to get the highest priority,’’ said the chief minister.
Jaitapur plant a bad bargain, says report
4 March 2011, Hindustan Times
NEW DELHI: The world's biggest nuclear power generation unit at Jaitapur is a `bad-bargain' for ecology and human safety, claims a report prepared by an anti-nuclear group on Wednesday. The report said British and US regulators have identified 3,000 safety issues with the European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) to be installed at Jaitapur by French company Areva. The non-government organisation, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, issued the report justifying its opposition to the 6,000 MW nuclear plant, which got an environment clearance in November 2010.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had alleged last week that international groups opposed to the nuclear power plant had misguided locals. He termed their concerns as totally misconceived. “Democratic opposition is being crushed using force at Jaitapur,“ said activist Vaishali Patil, who has been spearheading the campaign against the project and was denied entry into the region. The coalition claimed the government was determined to proceed with the costly project, without exploring the possibility of renewable energy, which can generate 4,300 MW of power in the Western Ghat region, considered to be among the world's 10 hottest biodiversity hotspots. The six reactors will cost the government Rs2 lakh crore as compared to Rs5 crore for a coal-fired thermal power plant.
“An EPR reactor being installed in Finland has been delayed by more than 42 months and the cost has increased by 90% of the original $3 three billion. In addition, the Department of Atomic Energy cannot certify that the plant will be safe,“ said Praful Bidwai, scientist and founder of the coalition, while releasing the report. The report also pointed out how the project will destroy the unique bio-diversity of the Western Ghats and termed environment minister Jairam Ramesh's conditions to protect the environment as vague. “Most of the conditions imposed (by Ramesh) should have been done by now,“ said Anil Chaudhury of the coalition.
Asking the government to immediately withdraw the project, the coalition said the four villages, whose livelihood will be destroyed because of the project, had not given consent and have refused to take enhanced compensation from the government. WHAT THE REPORT SAYS BRITISH AND US REGULATORS have identified 3,000 safety issues with the European (EPR) to be installed at Jaitapur by French company Areva Pressurised Reactors.
THE REPORT CLAIMED the government was determined to proceed with the costly project, without exploring the possibility of renewable energy, which can generate 4,300 MW of power in Western Ghat region THE REPORT POINTED OUT how the project will destroy the unique bio-diversity of the Western Ghats and termed environment minister Jairam Ramesh's conditions to protect the environment as vague TO CHIEF MINISTER had alleged last week that international groups opposed to the nuclear power had misguided locals. He termed their concerns as totally misconceived.
HC refuses relief for Jaitapur meet
5 March 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court refused to grant interim relief to the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights, which is to hold a public hearing in Jaitapur on the proposed nuclear power plant on Friday.
A division bench of Justices B H Marlapalle and U D Salvi declined to pass a formal order for the tribunal’s unrestricted visit to the village. The court was hearing a petition filed by the tribunal, which includes retired high court judges, former chief justice of the Delhi high court, Justice A P Shah, and former Supreme Court judge Justice P B Sawant. The tribunal is slated to hold a public hearing. The petitioner’s advocate, Gayatri Singh, said people who were trying to enter the village were being arrested.
“The police keep checking cars entering and leaving. Just because our views are contrary, we should not be put behind bars,” Singh said. “If that is so, in such an atmosphere, why do you want to hold a hearing?” the court asked. The judges said that one person was killed recently during protests. “If the state wants to be cautious, we cannot fault it,” the court remarked. The court also observed: “What is this tribunal going to do? Retired judges are not experts on nuclear matters.” The judges suggested that the tribunal instead request the government to set up a fact-finding committee comprising scientists who are not on the Maharashtra government’s rolls. The court also remarked that the tribunal’s visit was a “project-centric exercise” and said it must look into issues such as why Naxalism was growing in the state or even malnutrition.
Adjourning the matter for two weeks, the court observed that a committee of scientists was better to make the people understand the issue. “While it is a prestigious project for any state, we don’t want to say it has to be hoisted at the cost of human life or marine life and even ecology,” the court observed.
Notices to 2 activists, former judge Kolse Patil
Mumbai: The Rajapur executive magistrate served chapter notices to two activists and former judge B G Kolse Patil under Section 113 of the Indian Penal Code for “unlawful agitation” in Jaitapur. Vaishali Patil convener, Konkan Bachao Samiti, said the notice was issued so she could not participate in agitations.
Two former HC judges will record grievances of those whose family members were arrested over the last three months, at the public hearing. The office of the district magistrate of Ratnagiri said the state had not issued directions on the tribunal’s visit, so the question of government officials attending it did not arise. It said the meeting could not be permitted in Mithgavane.
Lanco gets eco nod for Wardha power project
Union ministry of environment and forests has cleared the 1,320MW project of Lanco Power proposed at Mandwa village near Wardha ignoring strong opposition from the project affected persons (PAPs). Most villagers had strongly opposed the project during the public hearing for environment clearance held on September 17, 2010. However, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board did not mention this. Four farmers challenged the validity of this hearing in Nagpur high court about three months ago. MoEF has cleared the project even as the matter is pending before HC. Tushar Mandlekar, counsel for the petitioners, condemned the decision. “This clearance is illegal. The MoEF’s decision to clear the project without answering the allegations raised in the petition is lamentable,” he said.
Safety Fears Cloud Nuclear Sunrise
15 March 2011, Times of India
Anew nervousness about nuclear energy has gripped the globe even as Fukushima nuclear power plant’s reactor No 3 had an explosion on Monday and reactor No 2 was going into a meltdown of the dangerous uranium-plutonium fuel. Governments of nuclear powers across the world went into damage control mode as thousands took to streets in Europe in protest against nuclear power plants.
Following its civilian nuclear deal with the US, India plans to set up 22 new reactors. Currently, there are 20 operational reactors with another 6 under construction. Government has indicated that in the coming decades up to 18 more reactors could be built. In Jaitapur in Maharashtra the local people are opposing a plant on safety and displacement fears.
Worldwide, there are 443 nuclear reactors supplying electricity to 30 countries. In recent years, there has been a nuclear renaissance of sorts with an additional 17 countries wanting to
join the nuclear energy bandwagon. In all, 62 new reactors are under construction, 158 have been ordered and as many as 342 more are proposed.
This would push up nuclear energy production by an additional 545 gigawatts in the coming decades. But the grim story from Japan has put paid to these breathless calculations. Japan has 55 nuclear reactors supplying almost 30% of the island nation’s energy needs. Most were built in the ’70s. All of them are on the coast, and had been built to very stringent quake proof standards as Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone places on the earth. Yet two reactors have failed and several others are spluttering. Details coming out now show that Fukushima was built to withstand 7.9 magnitude earthquakes and 6.5 meter high tidal waves. The monster quake on March 11 has now been officially upgraded to 9 magnitude and the tidal wave was over 7 meters by the time it reached Fukushima’s reactors.
Even more worrying are reports that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that runs this facility was caught forging repair and maintenance reports on 29 counts in 2002, and again in 2006, it was found to be using falsified reports from 1985 in inspections till 2005.
The Japanese government too is under pressure because Ishibashi Katsuhiko, a well known seismologist, had said in 2007 that Fukushima was highly vulnerable. Nuclear power had gained traction because of another fear haunting humanity — global warming. It was suggested that nuclear power could replace massive carbonemitting thermal plants. But as huge demonstrations in Germany and France show, people are equally worried about the nuclear option.
US Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the homeland security and government affairs committee, has called for putting the brakes on building new nuclear plants in the US for the present. The US has 104 reactors, the most in any country, but it has only recently started thinking about new reactors after a 30-year gap. President Obama has pitched for nuclear energy as a clean option.
The biggest expansion plans are China’s with 27 new reactors already under construction and 50 more on the anvil. China’s vice minister for environment Zhang Lijuin said after the Japanese temblor that it would not affect China’s plans. Xu Mi, a fast reactor expert at China National Nuclear Corporation and China Institute of Atomic Energy, told Xinhua that China would go ahead after drawing proper lessons and improving emergency safety plans.
Joseph Cirincione, nuclear material expert and peace exponent told media that Fukushima is already in the worst three nuclear accidents category after Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. But with the meltdown yet to be controlled, fear is stalking the world, especially those committed to a nuclear sunrise.
NUCLEAR ENERGY: BOON OR BANE?
No of countries producing nuclear energy : 30
No. of reactors : 443
Share of nuclear power in global electricity production : 14%
No. of countries planning to use nuclear energy : 17
Reactors under construction : 62
Reactors planned & proposed : 482
Countries planning to join nuclear energy club : 17
||Reactor Construction in Progress
||Reactor Construction plans in pipeline
Top Five Nuclear Energy Producer
||(% of total nuclear energy produced)
WW II radiation maimed 3 generations
16 March 2011, Times of India
The spectre of lethal radioactive fallout from the damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima in Japan continued to haunt the country as ripples of panic spread to distant shores. Fifty workers and technicians quarantined inside the power station complex were fighting a deadly battle to cool the three functional reactors even as cooling pools, where used fuel is stored, started heating up in the other three reactors. An explosion in reactor No. 2 and a fire in No.4 on Tuesday morning led to 822 millirem levels of radiation being detected at the gates of the complex. This is nearly equal to the permissible dose for one year. There was panic in Tokyo, 240 kms away, as radiation levels rose and then fell again.
According to experts, if the cooling pools overheat, the water will evaporate and there could be a very high risk of radioactive radiation leaking as the roofs have already blown away. The reactors are on the brink of meltdown, which may cause a radioactive explosion with disastrous consequences.
The only other time humanity has experienced full blown radiation effects was in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Over 200,000 people died, mainly by the thermal blast, but thousands continue to suffer and die from the radioactive fallout with deformities, cancers, burns, organ failures and susceptibility to infections. Even more horrifying has been the effect on children born to survivors. The mutilated genes were passed on to them, causing high incidence of cancer and deformities. Third generation children, too, have suffered such effects.
The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 was a parallel to the present crisis, though on a much larger scale. Reactors in this plant in Ukraine suffered almost complete meltdowns leading to two massive explosions of radioactive gases. Such was the force that the 2,000-tonne roof of the enclosure was blown away.
This cloud of death drifted thousands of kilometres across the western Soviet Union up to what is now Belarus. Sweden and Finland detected high radiation levels in the north, while Bavaria, a province in Germany, also detected high radiation. Only the Iberian peninsula in Europe escaped completely. Wind factors largely determined which region felt how much of a radiation effect. The effect lessens with distance. The gas tragedy at Bhopal, too, had seen a toxic cloud of gases explode out of the Carbide chemical factory in 1984 and drift across the sleeping city, killing 5,000 people and injuring 5 lakh others.
Twenty eight people, mostly firefighters, died of acute radiation syndrome in the Chernobyl incident, while another 221 succumbed in subsequent years due to radiation exposure. Nearly 3.7 lakh people were resettled and the neighbouring town of Pripyat still remains uninhabited. Four square kilometers of pine forest around the plant turned red and died. The Pripyat river, which feeds into the Dnieper system, was heavily contaminated, leading to widespread water poisoning.
Till today, the Chernobyl complex remains sealed off after a cement layer was poured over the blown reactors.
However,the lessons learnt from Chernobyl, in terms of design engineering of the containment structures and processes, have changed the way nuclear reactors are built since then. Fukushima, too, will have a similar effect. But that is for the future. For the present, the battle to control the Frankenstein of nuclear power continues in a tiny coastal town of northern Japan. And millions of Japanese hope that the breeze remains oceanwards rather than turning south or east.
Jaitapur redux along Andhra’s Srikakulam coast
Kovvada: Japan’s nuclear crisis has triggered widespread fears among people living along the Srikakulam coast, site for the proposed 10,000 MW nuclear plant. The Centre on Tuesday assured that the proposed nuclear reactors will have additional environmental safeguards to ensure safety. But people are not convinced. At a meeting, fishermen and farmers passed a unanimous resolution opposing the ` 60,000 crore nuclear plant. Members of local government bodies and village heads in and around the proposed plant site at Kovvada Matsyalesam opposed the plant. Congress leaders in Ranasthalam mandal have also decided to join the fight against the nuclear plant. Villagers will hold a rally in Ranasthalam on March 18. “After Japan’s tragedy, we realized that no village within 30-40 km radius of any nuclear plant will survive an accident or leakage,” said Mylapalli Police, a fishermen sangham leader.
Jaitapur clearance may be reviewed, says govt
16 March 2011, Hindustan Times
NEW DELHI: On the day environment minister Jairam Ramesh agreed to review the environment clearance to the nuclear plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, a German bank withdrew from the project on sustainable management grounds. “Since business related to nuclear power by process-definition has to be routed through our Reputational & Sustainability Management (RSM), we were sure that Commerzbank will not invest in this project,“ said an email from the bank to international NGO Greenpeace, which has been protesting against the project.
The NGO, however, refused to reveal who has written the email in response to a query whether the bank has withdrawn from the project. A consortium of 15 banks mainly from France and HSBC of UK had pledged to bear about 70% of the cost of the world's biggest nuclear power plant commissioned by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in collaboration with French company Areva. Commerzbank is the first bank to withdraw its commitment. Environment clearance to the 6,000-MW Jaitapur N-plant in November had evoked protest. The environment impact assessment by a Nagpur-based government organisation did not cover the radiology impacts in its study.
The Atomic Energy Board, regulator for nuclear energy in India, is looking at the radiation impact. On Tuesday, Ramesh acknowledged radiation impact has not been studied and said his ministry was looking at adding more environmental safeguards but refused to revoke the clearance. Reacting to Ramesh's statement, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said that it's just an eye wash. The Sena has been vehemently opposing the nuclear power project coming up in Konkan. “He said the same things in case of Navi Mumbai airport and Lavasa but then gave clean chit to both projects, “Thackeray said.
Referring to reports about chief minister Prithviraj Chavan taking a nap during a seminar on Jaitapur on Monday, Thackeray said: “What will you expect from these kind of rulers?“
Jairam firm that cleared N-plants will come up
16 March 2011, Times of India
NEW DELHI: The tsunami and reactor explosions in Japan may have led the government to order a review of the safety of nuclear power sites in India but this will not include the proposed new projects. Sources said the review might lead to new and additional safeguard measures as well as containment measures but there would be “no rethink on the nuclear energy programme”. The government will continue to move on course, after applying lessons learnt from Japan and taking precautions, to set up six plants in Gujarat, Andhra, West Bengal, Maharashtra and TN. Sources said the locations of new reactors were safe. Speaking on Tuesday, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said the government was open to putting in place additional environmental safeguards to ensure safety of the proposed nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra and other proposed sites.
“Based on technical reviews Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, we will certainly be in touch with them and if additional safeguards have to be built in as part of the environmental clearance, we will certainly look at it,” Ramesh said on the sidelines of a function in Delhi. The Jaitapur site has been witnessing protests at local levels though the Maharashtra chief minister has been as clear as the Centre that the project will come up. The environment ministry had come under flak from environmentalists and anti-nuclear lobbies for clearing the project in haste. Ramesh, though, has not budged from his position. His position is also bolstered by the fact that the laws were made to keep all nuclear issues out of the domain of environmental legislations. The Environment Protection Act and the environment ministry do not govern the nuclear safety aspects of power plants. Ramesh suggested as much on Tuesday, saying, “This is appropriately a subject that has to be dealt with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.”
20 years, 92 quakes: Ground trembles beneath Jaitapur’s feet
16 March 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: Fukushima has become part of the local lexicon at Jaitapur. As news of the apocalypse-like situation in Japan reaches the far corners of villages in and around the area, residents have increased their agitation against the proposed 9,900 mw nuclear power plant. Jaitapur area falls in the seismic zone 3 category, and data from the Geological Survey of India shows that between 1985 and 2005, there were 92 earthquakes.
The biggest earthquake in Jaitapur, recorded in 1993, measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. The ground is unstable, say activists and geologists, and there is no guarantee that the government’s safeguards will protect the people and ecologically sensitive Konkan coast from a nuclear disaster should there be another earthquake.
Environmental activist Pradeep Indulkar said: “The third explosion at the Fukushima plant in Japan on Tuesday confirms that in the event of an earthquake, precautionary measures and safeguards will not avert a disaster. It is better not to have a nuclear power plant in this seismic zone region.”
At Shivane village, 20 km from Jaitapur, Chandrakant Padkar remembers the day the earth shook and the road outside his house vanished. The unreported earthquake took place two years ago, and the village still bears the scars. Now, with the government’s plans to set up the nuclear plant here, the gorge has taken on a more ominous avatar.
No rethink on cleared N-plants, says Jairam
Tprompted he crisis in a Japan government may have review of nuclear power sites in India, but environment minister Jairam Ramesh indicated that there would be no rethink on the country’s nuclear energy programme.
‘Jaitapur is not prone to large earthquakes’
Mumbai: Jaitapur, the site of a proposed 9,900 mw nuclear power plant on the Konkan coast, has witnessed 92 earthquakes between 1985 and 2005 according to the Geological Survey of India. The area falls in the seismic zone 3 category, which means there is more than a moderate risk of earthquakes. Geologist Dr M K Prabhu, who has studied seismic activity in the area for two years, says there are three huge gorges in the area. Shivane had to bear the brunt of micro-seismic activity, due to which cracks have appeared, he said. “The plate extends up to Jaitapur, and there is a definite possibility of micro-seismic activity in and around the proposed nuclear plant. The state should think of setting up smaller-sized reactors,” said Prabhu, adding that while he is not against nuclear energy, safety concerns cannot be ignored.
Madhav Gadgil, chairman of the Western Ghats ecological council, had made a similar suggestion in his report last year. “What we need is less ecologically damaging power plants, and tap mini and micro hydro-electricity potential in this area,” said the report. Leading nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar had said that the reactor would be built 25 m above sea level. But environmental activist Indulkar said: “According to the environment impact assessment report, there are plans to bring down the height to around 7 m to conserve energy needed for pumping 5,200 crore litres of cooling water every day.” Dr V Subramanyam, former professor of Geology at IIT-Bombay, said that Jaitapur is not prone to large earthquakes like the one that hit Japan. But there is seismic activity, which must indeed be taken seriously, he said.
German bank pulls out
The international NGO Greenpeace announced on Tuesday that Commerzbank, the second largest bank in Germany, has pulled out of the proposed Jaitapur nuclear project, citing ‘sustainability and reputational risk’. The decision was made before Japan was hit by the earthquake
Jaitapur falls in seismic zone 3. A seismic zone map is based on a statistical compilation of the number and the magnitude of past earthquakes. This zone is classified as Moderate Damage Risk Zone. Experts say that the power plant will be able to withstand earthquakes of magnitudes up to 7 on the Richter Scale.
Jaitapur won’t relent
26 February 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: Opposition from local villagers to the Jaitapur nuclear power plant is unlikely to recede even as chief minister Prithviraj Chavan visits the site on Saturday. Despite efforts by the government to win support of the locals for the project, most villagers are united in their demand for its cancellation.
The project, which will have a power generation capacity of 9900 mw after being fully commissioned, is the biggest taken up in the country till now and will be implemented by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
Locals have been protesting against the project since 2006, when the state government initiated the acquisition of land process. Over 938 hectares from Madban, Niveli, Karel, Mithgavane and Varilwada villages had been acquired.
Villagers claimed the acquisition was “undemocratic and unjust”. Only 126 of the 2,335-odd families, whose land is under acquisition, have agreed to the compensation offered by the government. The protests gained ground in last year with villagers from neighbouring villages joining in. Concerns regarding loss of livelihood and the impact on health have been raised and fishermen and farmers have joined hands. The Janhit Seva Samiti (JSS) and Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Bachao Samiti (KVPBS) may hand over a charter of demands to Chavan. The foremost demand will be for the project’s cancellation, said Dr Milind Desai, a JSS member. He said, “The project is being imposed on villagers even though over 90% people are against it.” He demanded a public poll among villagers on the issue.
NPCIL project director C B Jain said many villagers supported the project, “but they are being threatened”.
Ramesh Kajve, another JSS member and local Congress leader, rubbished Jain’s contention. “Let there be a secret ballot. Let the truth come out,” he said. Meanwhile, those who support the project have to face the wrath of locals. Many are being disowned by villages and are not being invited to social functions. Sayli Waghdhare, whose husband Sanjay accepted compensation, said they had to shift from Madban to Mirzod.
‘Right info needed to ease nuclear power safety fears’
18 January 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: Director-general of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano on Monday said that if “appropriate information” were passed to the public, it would go a long way in allaying their fears about safety of nuclear power. Amano made this point during an interaction with the media when he was asked about public opposition at Jaitapur towards the construction of nuclear reactors in the locality. “Transparency is needed.” Amano was in Mumbai to attend the 21st annual conference of the Indian Nuclear Society and present the Homi Bhabha Lifetime Achievement Award to former atomic energy commission (AEC) chairman Anil Kakodkar. Praising India’s safety standards in the nuclear sector, Amano said at the same time this should not lead to any form complacency.
“This is the 25th year of the Chernobyl disaster and nuclear safety has been enhanced all over the world. But, I would say that it should not result in complacency.” Regarding the controversy surrounding nuclear liability in India, all he would say was that “progress is being made.” It may be recalled that the US, France and Russia have raised certain issues regarding India’s nuclear liability law and so far efforts to find a common meeting ground have not proved too successful.
On global nuclear issues, referring to the report that the US and Israel had teamed up to develop the Stuxnet worm which seriously affected Iran’s nuclear weapon programme, he said that though there have been a lot of discussions about this worm, the “knowledge of IAEA is limited.” “I welcome the idea of the P-5 countries planning to have a dialogue with Iran,” he said. Regarding China assisting Pakistan in its nuclear programme, he said that the matter came under the purview of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG).
Earlier, addressing the large gathering of atomic scientists, he said that the number of countries using nuclear power was 60 at the moment and it was expanding. “About 10 to 25 new reactors will be constructed between now and 2030,” he said, while pointing out that the centre of this massive growth was Asia, particularly in India, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. According to him, of the 61 reactors under construction, 39 are in Asia. “Many of the countries which want nuclear power are developing countries.”
Jaitapur villagers boycott meet with CM, scientists
19 January 2011, Times of India
MUMBAI: Project-affected people from Jaitapur boycotted on Tuesday a meeting organized by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, in coordination with eminent nuclear scientists and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), to clear misconceptions about nuclear power. The boycott was mainly because many inhabitants believe the nuclear power plant will make them impotent, or that they will get cancer and their children will have physical deformities. This could be a major hurdle in developing India’s biggest 21st century 10,000 MW nuclear power plant.
The belief is mainly the result of deep-rooted superstitions due to illiteracy, and has increased anger among the people who are fighting tooth and nail against the project, which has been approved by the Union ministry of environment and forests headed by Jairam Ramesh. Many children in Jaitapur are boycotting schools where the state government had planned to make them aware about the benefits of nuclear power. However, many people from the Konkan region attended the meeting at the Yashwantrao Chavan Centre, besides Jaitapur natives who live in Mumbai. Raja Patwardhan, who hails from Jaitapur, said, “The locals think that children with bigger heads or more than one head will be born in the village.”
He told Chavan and nuclear experts like Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Srikumar Banerjee and former chairman Anil Kakodkar, who were present at the meeting, to explain the issue. Dr Rajendra Badve, director of the Tata Memorial Centre, on behalf of the nuclear scientists, said the ratio of such diseases was very low among people living near nuclear plants, compared to people in other areas of the country.
Chavan said that since he had worked closely with the AEC while he was in the prime minister’s office, it was his firm belief that the Jaitapur project would be a boon to the state and the country. “Had the project been a threat to people in the area, I would have been the first person to stop it from coming up in the state,” he said.
On why people had boycotted the meet, Chavan said he could not help it if someone decided to oppose the plant based on ideology. However, he said, he was not averse to holding such meetings whenever needed. Some sarpanchs of villages around Jaitapur had resigned in protest against the plant.
Many people in Jaitapur also believe the area may experience earthquakes daily if the power plant comes up, as it is not far away from the Koyna dam. But scientists like Dr S P Dharne of the NPCIL said there had been seismic activity in Bhuj, near the Kakrapar power plant, and in Almora, near the Narora power plant, but the plants were safe and never contributed to seismic sensitivity.
Nuclear scientists Sharad Kale and Shrikumar Apte said there would not be any effect of radiation on agricultural products and marine life in the area.
EAC clears Jaitapur nuclear plant
19 November 2010, Hindustan Times
NEW DELHI: A 10,000 MW controversial nuclear power plant in Maharashtra to be set up by a French company may be a goodwill gesture to French President Nicolas Sarkozy when he arrives in India on December 4. The last hurdle for India’s biggest nuclear power plant in Jaitapur district of Maharashtra was cleared on Monday when an environment ministry committee considered the Department of Atomic Energy’s environment impact assessment report of the plant being built by French company Areva. “Very soon approval will be announced,” was the reply of a senior ministry functionary when asked about the EAC’s decision. The EAC will soon submit its recommendations to environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. “You can expect the approval in two weeks and that is well before President Sarkozy’s visit to India”. Sarkozy’s Indian four-day visit starts in first week of December and the agreement between Areva and Department of Atomic Energy is expected to be signed in his presence. The plant is being set up on 938hectares of land acquired from 2,300 people. Ministry officials told HT that most hurdles for the setting up the plant have been cleared. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the project proponent, has been asked to put the revised Environment Impact Assessment report on its website. The EAC headed by AR Reddy had visited the project site on October 27 under heavy security to find whether the green field project would have an adverse ecological impact amid protest by locals and NGOs, who had been claiming that the nuclear plant will destroy aunique plateau in Western Ghats.
The Environment Impact Assessment report prepared by Nagpur based National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) had said that there will be no adverse impact on the ecology. “It is a rocky and barren land with no habitation and vegetation. There is no roosting or breeding sites and is not used for saltpans or drying of fish. Therefore, the conversion of this land will have no impact on the flora, fauna and human activities,” the report read. But, those opposing the project claim that the plateau, which is unique in Western Ghats, has a seasonal bio-diversity for which NEERI did not collect any scientific data. In addition, the Konkan Bachao Andolan (KBA) had alleged that the information on impact of radio activity from the plant on locals have not been shared with them. The EAC, which did not meet any of the locals during their visit, now appears to have validated the NEERI claim, enough to grant environment clearance to the project. Unlike other environment clearance, the government has been secretive on nuclear plants as none of the minutes of EAC meeting on Jaitapur power plant are in public domain. The environment ministry was apparently under pressure to speed up the environment clearance process for Jaitapur plant as it would be first nuclear plant after Nuclear Supplies Group clearance. France was the first country to sign a civil nuclear deal with India in 2008 ending 34 years of Indian isolation in getting nuclear supply.
Jaitapur N-unit gets green nod
30 November 2010, Times of India
MUMBAI: The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has given environment clearance to the controversial Jaitapur nuclear power project slated to come up in Madban village (Ratnagiri district) along the Konkan coast. This is the second major project, after the Navi Mumbai airport, to be cleared by Minister Jairam Ramesh in a week. The 9,900-mw Jaitapur nuclear power plant, the country’s largest, will be set up in collaboration with French firm Areva. The final contracts are scheduled to be signed in the first half of 2011. The project has elicited a huge outcry, with mass protests by local fishermen and environmentalists who fear that it will not only kill the rich marine biodiversity of the Konkan belt but also destroy the livelihood of the local fishing community. “The true impact of the project of this scale will never be known unless one decides to do a comprehensive biodiversity assessment. The thermal discharge of this scale is bound to cause an eco-system shift in a large area. Even a 0.5 degree of continuous thermal stress will lead to mortality of marine species. And here we are talking about a 5-degree shift,’’ said Deepak Apte, marine biologist and deputy director of the Bombay Natural History (BNHS).
Incidentally, the environmental clearance for the Jaitapur project was given in just 80 days from the time the final environment impact assessment (EIA) report was submitted by the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL).
WILL RAMESH’S DECISION BE BOON OR BANE?
PROPOSED CAPACITY: village, Rajapur taluka, 6 plants, each of which Ratnagiri can generate 1,650 mw
AREA ACQUIRED: of power 938 hectares
FUEL USED: Uranium (692 for plant site
SUPPLIER: Areva France and 246 for, residential use)
COMPLETION: 6 years.