Environment minister Jairam Ramesh is expected to clear India’s biggest nuclear plant — to be set up by a French firm — in two weeks, in time for the arrival of French President Nicolas Sarkozy in India.
The last hurdle for 10,000 MW plant in Jaitapur district, Maharashtra was cleared on Monday when an environment ministry panel considered the Department of Atomic Energy’s environment impact assessment report of the plant being built by French firm Areva.
“Very soon approval will be announced,” said a ministry official when asked about the Expert Appraisal Committee’s decision. It will soon submit its suggestions to Ramesh. “You can expect the approval in two weeks and that is well before President Sarkozy’s visit to India”.
The agreement between Areva and Department of Atomic Energy is expected to be signed in Sarkozy’s presence.
Officials said most hurdles for the plant have been cleared. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the project proponent, has been asked to put the revised environment impact assessment report on its website.
The EAC had visited the site on October 27 to find whether the project would have an adverse impact amid protest by locals, who claim the plant will destroy a plateau in Western Ghats.
The report prepared by National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) had said there will be no adverse impact. “It is a rocky and barren land with no habitation and vegetation... Thus, the conversion of this land will have no impact on the flora, fauna and human activities,” the report read.
But, those opposing the project claim that the plateau has a seasonal bio-diversity for which NEERI did not collect any data. The Konkan Bachao Andolan had also alleged that the information on impact of radioactivity from the plant on locals have not been shared with them.
The EAC now appears to have validated the NEERI claim, enough to grant clearance to the project.
The 10,000 MW nuclear power park will be set up in 968 acres Jaitapur district.
The land required for the project has been acquired.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India had claimed that not a single family would be displaced since 67% of the land being acquired is barren.
Some opposed the plan, said that radiation hazards have not been studied.
The EAC has reportedly told that this aspect has been studied.