Fear of catastrophe should not hinder Jaitapur project: Sharad Pawar

Mumbai: Criticising staunch opposition to the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power project, Union Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday said fear of catastrophe should not hinder development activities.

"One has to see how to overcome natural calamities. It is wrong to stop forces of development. We have not stopped construction of houses because of earthquakes. Lakhs of homes were destroyed in Latur earthquake. We rebuilt many more. We have the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai and the Tarapore nuclear plant nearby," Pawar told reporters here.

Pawar's comment came in the backdrop of concern arising over the project after a devastating earthquake in March damaged the nuclear facility at Fukushima in Japan following which the country plunged into a major nuclear crisis.

When asked what would he suggest to ensure the project implementation is not stopped, the NCP president said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan knows the nitty-gritties of the Jaitapur nuclear project since the time he was a minister in the Prime Minister's office (PMO).

"Maharashtra needs electricity to improve its industrial growth. Those who criticise load shedding should not oppose steps taken to improve power generation. We have to construct power plants whether they are nuclear, gas based, hydro or coal," the Agricultural minster noted.

Replying to a question on Shiv Sena's opposition to the project, Pawar said he had no idea why the saffron party was against the nuclear plant. "Perhaps, they have a different ideology," he said.

Without naming Sena chief Bal Thackeray and his son Uddhav, Pawar said, "I don't meet my senior friend these days and I don't talk to kids on such issues."

Responding to a question on whether he felt that the Sena leadership's stand on the project was 'childish', Pawar, without naming Uddhav Thackeray, said, "How can you call him childish. Even his son is now in politics," he said.