Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday assured the Assembly that people who will be affected by the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant will get more compensation than what was earlier offered apart from jobs and funds to develop their villages.
“If a person does not get employment, he will get at least Rs 5 lakh in cash as compensation,” Chavan said, replying to a debate on the issue initiated by Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai. Chavan said the government will talk to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited about giving more compensation to project-affected people. He urged the Opposition to support the project keeping the state’s larger interests in mind.
Chavan refuted the Opposition’s allegations that the project would have an adverse impact on the region’s biodiversity. “Nuclear power is the cleanest power on earth. The project that will generate 10,000 mega watts of power will change the country’s power scenario and that of Maharashtra in particular,” Chavan said.
He claimed that the Union ministry for environment and forests had given the project a go-ahead only after hearing the concerns of the people on May 16. He accused the Opposition of misleading people about the project by claiming that it will be hazardous to the environment and will endanger the livelihood of local people.
Desai drew the attention of the House to the mass protests against the project at Jaitapur. “There can be a second Chernobyl if we allow the project there,” Desai said. Twenty-eight people died when explosions in a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine in 1986 caused radioactive fallout.
He alleged that the government was acquiring land forcibly and that Areva, the French company the government is implementing the Jaitapur project with, was “dubious”. “The company is on the verge of bankruptcy,” he alleged.
The Sena received support from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Peasants and Workers’ Party but its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), supported the project on the condition that the region’s ecological balance is maintained and farmers get the best compensation.
Despite their differences, when BJP legislators joined the Sena in its walk out on the issue after the chief minister’s reply, BJP legislators followed them.
Congress leader and industries minister Narayan Rane defended the project that is coming up on his home turf.