No review of clearance to Jaitapur plant: Ramesh

Refusing to review the conditional clearance given by his ministry to Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday accused opposition parties of politicising the issue.

Updated: Dec 29, 2010, 18:44 PM IST

New Delhi/Mumbai: Refusing to review the
conditional clearance given by his ministry to Jaitapur
nuclear power plant in Maharashtra, Environment Minister
Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday accused opposition parties of politicising the issue.

"As far as environment clearance is concerned, we have
done all that is required and all different interest groups
should not use environment as a shield or cloak behind which
they start firing their guns at government," Ramesh told
reporters in Delhi.

"The issue is being politicised by the BJP and the CPI-M
as they are unhappy with the success of the Indo-US nuclear
deal," he said.

Ramesh was asked whether the Environment Ministry would
have a rethink over the clearance given to the power plant in
view of demands in this regard.

In Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,
who has batted for the Jaitapur project, said he will convene
a meeting of local legislators and NGOs to discuss the project
coming up in the Konkan region.

"There are a lot of misunderstandings about the project
which need to be cleared," he said.

He said a delegation of the State Congress unit and not
the government, has gone to Jaitapur to understand why the
locals are opposing the proposed plant.

"I plan to convene a meeting to clear the apprehensions
about the project after which I will personally visit the
plant site. A team of experts will also be invited for the
meeting," Chavan said.

In Jaitapur, Hussain Dalwai, a member of the Congress
team, said the demands of the locals would be placed before
the state government.

"There are misconceptions. Some improvement if required
should be carried out. The locals say that if the conditions
do not improve, they won`t let the project happen," he said.

The 9900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power complex is located in
the ecologically sensitive coastal Maharashtra region which
includes Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts.

Nuclear Power Corporation of India is building the plant
in collaboration with French nuclear designing firm Areva.
Last month, the Union Environment Ministry gave a conditional
go-ahead to the plant.

However, it is facing staunch opposition from the locals
who fear environmental degradation in the fragile Konkan area.

There have been complaints that their lands have been
forcefully taken away. Locals have also voiced concerns that
there was no provision for proper storage or disposal of
nuclear waste.

Noting that "many people have different agenda" in
Jaitapur, Ramesh asked those opposing the environmental
clearance not to "make mockery" of the process.

"On November 28, the Environment clearance for Jaitapur
nuclear power project was accorded. The 35 conditions
associated with the clearance have also been made public," he

"There are political parties which have never agreed
with the fact that our Prime Minister concluded the most
successful civil nuclear agreement, of which Jaitapur is the
first one," Ramesh said attacking the opponents of the

Acknowledging that "there are some problems" associated
with land acquisition, Ramesh said these would be looked into
by the Maharashtra Chief Minister "more sensitively. We have
to take local communities along with us."

His comments came in the backdrop of senior BJP leader
Yashwant Sinha and CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat
demanding a re-look into the conditional environmental
clearance given to the nuclear plant.

They said it has created a "great deal of disquiet" among
locals as well as others across the country.

"There are issues of safety. More importantly there are
issues of environment and a conditional clearance given by
the Environment Ministry is not enough. Minister Jairam Ramesh
is on a mission mode and is trying to implement policies in
that mode.

"Therefore, I was quite surprised, indeed shocked and
I found that he has even given conditional clearance of the
plant. It definitely calls for a re-look," Sinha said.

An impact assessment report by Tata Institute of Social
Sciences (TISS) has warned that the project will have a
"huge negative impact on social and environment development"
as it is sitting on a high to moderate severity earthquake

The report compiled by a TISS social scientist Mahesh
Kamble highlighted the people`s demand for more transparency
from the government on the project.

"The code set by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)
for site selection for setting up of nuclear power plant (NPP)
prescribes that there should not be any active geological
fault within 5-km radius from the proposed site of NPP," NPCIL
spokesperson N Nagaich said.