New Delhi: The CPI Wednesday questioned the
environment clearance granted by the Centre to the nuclear
power park proposed to be developed by French company Areva at
Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
CPI national secretary D Raja shot off a letter to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh drawing his attention to the mass
protests against the project at Jaitapur following concerns
over environmental and safety issues.
Recently, the Shiv Sena had declared support to the
protests against the Jaitapur nuclear power project.
He said the Ministry of Environment and Forests has
accepted that the nuclear power plant might have an adverse
impact on the surrounding farm-land and fishing-areas.
"In spite of this, the ministry granted clearance to the
project and gave the NPCIL 12 months to submit a supplementary
plan to conserve biodiversity and protect the adjoining
fisheries. Surely, clearance should have been granted only
after the NPCIL submitted this plan, not before," he said.
"I feel that this `conditional clearance` is a
disingenuous attempt by the ministry to evade its
responsibility," Raja said and demanded revocation of the
clearance if the NPCIL does not meet the conditions stipulated
by the government.
Raja also wanted the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)
to hold a public hearing in the affected areas to discuss the
safety-concerns of the residents and demanded that a copy of
the safety report should also be tabled in Parliament.
Citing the cost of six billion euro for construction of
one nuclear reactor, the Rajya Sabha member wondered whether
Areva was offering to build reactors in India at half the
international price as the deal for two reactors in Jaitpur is
pegged at seven billion euros.
"This does not sound plausible to us, and I am worried
that there will be severe cost overruns. Moreover, I am
concerned that the public sector NPCIL will have to bear this
burden," he said.
"So, I would like to urge the Central government to insist
that Areva be contractually responsible for any cost overruns
above the initially estimated figure," Raja said.
He said a diverse set of organisations under the banners
of the Konkan Bachao Samiti and Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp
Virodhi Samiti have been protesting against the project over
safety and environmental concerns.
He accused the Maharashtra government of repressing these
groups instead of engaging them.
Expressing concern over the possibility of NPCIL
renouncing its right of recourse against Areva, Raja demanded
the contract, including all matters related to nuclear
liability, be placed in the public domain.