Five months after 9,960 MW Jaitapur nuclear power plant got environment clearance, its impact on local marine ecology and bio-diversity will be studied.
The project proponent Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) on Monday issued letter of intent to five public sector institutions to carryout an intensive ecological study prompting the project critics to ask why such a study was not done before granting environment clearance.
"It is an admission that the (environment) ministry's environment clearance was faulty," said Praful Bidwai, who runs a civil society organization Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh had cleared the project in November 2010 with with 35 conditions based on National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)'s environment impact assessment, which had failed to study the project's implications on local ecology. Normally, ecological studies are part of the terms of reference for the EIA.
Impact on marine life can be gauged from the fact that NEERI's report raises a possibility of up to five degree Celsius rise in sea level temperature even though the Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS), which is anchoring the study, had said that even 0.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature rise can play havoc.
Scientific institutions around the world have found increase in acidity in sea because of temperature rising resulting from global warming. "No one knows what will be the impact of waste generated and radiation on the sea but still the project has got a go ahead," Bidwai said.
The study costing Rs 5.86 crore will be completed in a year and will cover area of 10 km radius around the plant. The five institutions have also been asked to prepare composite marine and bio-diversity management plans for the area to be studied.
The NPCIL has admitted of public relation nightmare and has decided to nominate experts in Social Science and Environment as a member in the corporation's advisory committee. But, it does not know how to convince the locals on better relief and rehabilitation package being offered.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh made an open claim that NPCIL's public communication skills were poor after he faced protest by students of Tata Institute for Social Sciences at Mumbai last week. "TISS is located just across the compound wall (Department of Atomic Energy) and the students were complaining that there was no effort for dialogue," Ramesh said, in a letter to NPCIL.