India’s biggest nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra has hit a green hurdle for now as the Environment Ministry has imposed a four-month moratorium on all projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhuburg districts of Maharashtra.
The ministry has asked the Western Ghat Ecology Panel headed by National Advisory Council member Madhav Gadgil to examine over a dozen power projects, including the Jaitapur nuclear power project, and 55 mining projects for their impact on environment and make its recommendations. “The panel will recommend the approach for deciding on these projects,” a senior ministry official said.
The ministry also said no projects would be considered for environment approval till December 2010 by when the panel will have to submit its report. “We will hold a meeting next month to decide on what approach to take on the ministry’s order,” Gadgil told HT.
There are a dozen power projects and 55 mining projects proposed in the two districts. Maharashtra government’s decision to open the fragile Western Ghats for mining had evoked protests from the green lobby, including Gadgil. The NPCIL had to stop land acquisition in Jaitapur after protests by locals.
“We are coming up with a mega nuclear plant in Ratnagiri in 600 hectares of land, two-third of which would be a green belt…” Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, while introducing Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage 2010 Bill.
The plant is the biggest nuclear energy project of the NPCIL, even though the corporation has sought environment clearance for three other nuclear plants. They are: 2,800 MW plant in Fatehabad in Haryana, 6,000 MW plant in Srikakulam, AP and 6,000 MW plant in Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
Gadgil said the panel, which met MPs on August 17, was of the view the suggestions for Ghats would evolve on making “development compatible with conservation”.