On the day Environment minister Jairam Ramesh agreed to review the environment clearance to world biggest nuclear park at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, a German bank withdrew from the project on sustainable management grounds.
“Since business related to nuclear power by process-definition has to be routed through our Reputational & Sustainability Management (RSM), we were sure, that Commerzbank will not invest in this project,” said an email from the bank to international NGO Greenpeace, which has been protesting against the project.
The NGO, however, refused to reveal who from the bank has written the email in response to a query whether the bank has withdrawn from the project.
A consortium of 15 banks mainly from France and HSBC of UK had pledged to bear about 70% of the cost of the Jaitapur nuclear power project being commissioned by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in collaboration with French company Areva. Commerzbank is the first bank to withdraw its financial commitment for the project.
Environment clearance to the 6,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear plant in November had evoked strong protest with locals alleging that the clearance was granted without studying the radiation impact on local population.
The Environment Impact Assessment done by a Nagpur based government organization did not cover the radiology impacts in its study. The Atomic Energy Board, regulator for nuclear energy in India, is looking at the radiation impact.
On Tuesday, Ramesh acknowledged that the radiation impact has not been studied and said his ministry was looking at adding more environmental safeguards but refused to revoke the environment clearance.
“Based on the technical reviews done by NPCIL, we will certainly be in touch with them and if additional safeguards have to be built in as part of the environmental clearance, we will certainly look at it,” Ramesh said.
Concerns have been raised over the Jaitapur plant following radiation leaks from nuclear plant in Japan following a Tsunami on last Friday. The radiation leaks in Fukushima is said to be second worst to Chernobyl nuclear tragedy, which took place quarter a century ago.
The environment minister said the Prime Minister had made a detailed presentation on safety of nuclear plants in Parliament on Monday and NPCIL was looking at this aspect.