Monday, January 10, 2011


10 Jan 2011



From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: A slip-up of the Environment and Forests Ministry in the hasty grant of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri district came to light on Monday when it extended moratorium on all projects in the ecologically sensitive districts of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra up to June 30.
The ministry even bypassed the 14-member Western Ghat Ecology Expert Panel, headed by 69-year old ecology scientist Madhav Gadgil of Pune, constituted in March to scrutinise all proposals in the Western Ghat areas of six states of Maharashtra, oa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

In fact, the panel had toured Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts for nine days in October to scrutinise the nuclear power park and four other thermal power plants. 

There is, however, no reference to its findings in the clearance granted to the controversial 9900-MW nuclear plant facing a host of public protests  through a notification issued on November 26. What use constituting such panel when it is bypassed for clearing the nuclear plant, the environmentalists are ought to ask.

The clearance also bypasses the ministry's own circular of August 16, 2010 banning up to December 31 issue of the project clearances sought from it or from the Maharashtra State Environment Impact Assessment Authority.

The moratorium on projects in the two districts has been extended since the ministry has not yet received a report from the Western Ghat Ecology Expert Panel.

Instead, the nuclear plant and its township were secured a clearance from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for nuclear power projects, slapping 35 specific safeguard conditions and a dozen general conditions. The hurry in grant of the clearance was to give the green signal to the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) before arrival of the French President as the first two units of 1650 MW are to be set up by French firm Areva.

The Rs 60,000-crore project envisages a nuclear power park of six reactors to be installed in phases at the small port of Jaitapur off Madban village in Rajapur Taluka of Ratnagiri district on 938 hectares of land. The first phase is planned to be completed in 3-4 years while the second phase involving installation of four European pressurised reactors is to be completed by 2018. NCPIL hopes to start supplying electricity from this project by 2016.


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