Environment ministry defends Jaitapur project

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New Delhi:  Even as the farmers' protest intensifies in Ratnagiri, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has come out in defence of the controversial nuclear plant project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

According to sources, the MoEF has defended the environment clearance to the plant while dubbing the decision as a difficult one. Sources further added that the decision was taken while balancing strategic, economic, global diplomacy and environmental concerns. 

The ministry is reported to have said, "All battles cannot be fought using environment as a cloak."

The MoEF also reportedly studied concerns raised by several NGOs including Konkan Bachao Samiti before clearing the project and imposed 35 strict conditions to minimise ecological impact.

Sources also claim that Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had even written a letter defending his stand to BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who has been opposing the project.

Chavan bats for Jaitapur project

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has come out in support of the controversial Jaitapur power plant. Chavan has assured of adequate compensation for all those farmers who have lost their land. Chavan has also said that officials from the atomic department will meet residents, local organisations and representatives to clear misconceptions about the project.

"From the state government's side, we will never let unsafe technology to our state,  because we have 20 years of experience in atomic reactors in our country and currently nearly 6 reactors are functioning in Maharashtra. So calling it unsafe would be totally wrong. There are tests which are going on in this regard and we are trying that the right kind of information should reach people. We will plan a meeting with the locals in which we will invite atomic energy experts", Chavan told.

The assurance has come even as a Congress team is in Ratnagiri to review the situation.

Villagers in the area claim their lands were forcefully taken away, and that the project has no plans for storage or disposal of nuclear waste.

"A Congress committee is going to Jaitapur. The committee will talk to locals and fishermen there. We will listen to their views and problems," Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said.

The 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 9900 megawatt power plant - said to be the world's largest - 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.

IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT CRITICISES JAITAPUR NUCLEAR PLANT


An impact assessment report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has strongly criticised the nuclear power plant being proposed at Jaitapur in the Konkan region.

The report has indicated that the project - which requires about 968 hectares of land panning five villages - will have a huge negative impact on the social as well as environmental development of not just these villages and the surrounding areas, but also on the Konkan region in general.

The findings suggest that the government subverted facts and called fertile agricultural land barren. It also says that the Jaitapur project is sitting on a high to moderate severity earthquake zone.


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