Despite increasing opposition by citizens and experts, environment minister Jairam Ramesh has refused to reconsider the conditional go-ahead given to the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
The voices against the nuclear plant received a boost when an impact assessment report by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) stated that the project would have a "huge negative impact on social and environment development" as it was sitting on a high to moderate severity earthquake zone.
The TISS findings in 'Perception Matter- People's Report- Social Impact Assessment of Jaitapur Madban Nuclear Power Plant' also suggested that the government subverted facts and called the fertile agricultural land as "barren".
The report highlights the people's demand for more transparency from the government on the project and raises concern about building nuclear power plants on earthquake Zone-IV.
It also indicated that the project - which requires about 968 hectares of land spread over 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 Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has planned to build at least six units of 1560 MW each power plants at the site in collaboration with French nuclear energy major Areva.
Meanwhile, NPCIL clarified that the Jaitapur site is in Zone-III and not in Zone-IV. Actually, the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project site selection has been done keeping ample safety margins, it said.
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.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh however says he doesn’t want to rethink on Jaitapur issue. He also added that the issue of setting up the plant is now being politicized by opposition parties.
However, it is facing staunch opposition from locals who fear environmental degradation in the fragile Konkan area. Especially the local fishermen are largely opposing the project because it is a threat to their livelihood for certain security reasons as well.