India's nuclear brass and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while pitching for the growth of nuclear power, Friday allayed fears of villagers of Rajapur who are protesting against the proposed 9,900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.
They cited the huge developmental activities witnessed in and around Tarapur, around 100 km from Mumbai and which houses the four nuclear power plants of Nuclear Power Corp of India producing around 1,400 MW power and other key installations of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
The prime minister, accompanied by National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, told scientists, engineers and technocrats that Tarapur was an outstanding example of nuclear energy's capacity to provide clean, safe and economical energy "our nation requires for development and growth".
"This site is home to the oldest boiling water reactors in the world. Here we have built our own reactors as well. And we have subsequently added the entire range of facilities covering the entire fuel cycle from fuel fabrication to reprocessing and waste immobilization," Manmohan Singh said.
Without making a direct reference to Jaitapur, he said that given the advanced status of India's indigenous programme and the capabilities of its scientists and engineers, the country can now confidently utilize the new opportunities created by the opening up of international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.
The Jaitapur project is coming up in collaboration with Areva, France.
Speaking to mediapersons after the prime minister unveiled India's second power reactor reprocessing plant, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee and NPCIL chairman and managing director S.K. Jain tried to clear misconceptions vis-à-vis the Jaitapur project.
"Tarapur has grown in phases, there would be assured development of Jaitapur... for Tarapur it took 40 years... Jaitapur would be much faster. Some of the villages around Tarapur plant that are not part of the project site have (asked) why they have not been included in the project," said Banerjee.
Similarly, Jain said that everything had been going on smoothly since 2000 to 2008 and suddenly there were protests against the Jaitapur project.
Referring to Tarapur, Jain pointed out that India had the best safety record in running nuclear power plants.