The union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee will meet on Monday to consider environmental clearance for the proposed 10,000 megawatt Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant in Ratnagiri district.
“Yes, we will meet on Monday and take a call on the clearance,” said Arjula Reddy, chairman of the committee. “Whether or not to meet again will be decided then.”
The 14-member committee will discuss the environment impact assessment (EIA) report, objections put forth during the public hearing that was conducted in May as well as consider the reservations by non-government organisations.
The committee will put forth their recommendations to the ministry, which will then take a final call.
Senior officials at the Nuclear Power Corporation of India that builds and operates nuclear power plants said the environmental clearance would only mean commencement of subsidiary activities such as the constructing the boundary wall.
“Though a milestone, the ministry’s clearance will only mean that the plant will have no impact on the environment. Work or ground break will start only after the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board approves various aspects pertaining to the plant,” said the official under conditions of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
“Both environment and the regulator’s clearances are independent on each other.”
For the last one year, project affected residents have been protesting against the plant citing environmental concerns and stating that the land has paddy fields, mango trees, dry grass where cattle graze and flora and fauna.
The Konkan Bachao Samiti has been demanding that a fresh EAI be conducted because they allege that the existing report has not considered critical assessments of consequences in case of a severe accident or for transportation of radioactive materials that would be created in terms of spent fuel.
The proposed Indo-French plant is the first foreign collaboration on the civil nuclear programme after the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted international restrictions in September 2008.